How employees are participating in UTMB’s fund-raising campaign
By Judie L.Kinonen
A summer downpour did not dampen the spirits of nearly six hundred UTMB employees who used their lunch hour to trek under umbrellas to Levin Hall from all over campus July 15. Once there, they rattled noisemakers, waved signs and cheered the launch of “Family Matters: The Campaign for the UTMB Community.”
Their cheers washed over Al LeBlanc, chair of the Family Matters Campaign Leadership Committee and program facilitator in the Office of Graduate Medical Education, who summed up the purpose of the kick-off: “Financial support from the UTMB community is vital to this institution,” he said. “Whether it’s about leaving a legacy, honoring a loved one or helping someone less fortunate than you, when you give you’re investing in the future of UTMB.”
With a five-year, twenty-five-million-dollar goal, the Family Matters Campaign is a crucial part of UTMB’s larger Timeless Values, Pioneering Solutions comprehensive fund-raising campaign. Employees and retirees are being encouraged to take this opportunity to contribute to any of five specific initiatives that a representative group of their peers concluded would strike a chord on campus. They may also contribute to programs of excellence included in the overarching comprehensive campaign—or to any other area of the university that has personal meaning for them.
LeBlanc says the importance of a single person’s participation in this campaign can’t be overstated. While the monetary goal is important, so is the ambitious employee participation goal of 75 percent. Employee participation rates speak volumes to contributors outside UTMB, who often use the numbers as a gauge of how much employees value their institution.
Making a similar point at a UTMB Development Board luncheon on June 24, Fred Burns, chair of the comprehensive fund-raising campaign and a board member of Houston’s Wortham Foundation, noted that “a high level of participation in this family campaign is just as important as the dollar amount—it is important to foundations and other benefactors to know that the organization they are being asked to support is willing to support and believe in itself.”
To that end, the five Family Matters initiatives are tailored to employees’ interests, as gleaned from focus groups comprising eighty employees and retirees from all divisions of the institution. Through these focus groups, the campaign’s Leadership Committee heard some recurring themes and created the following giving opportunities:
These initiatives may have a direct impact on employees’ work life and may address some of the problems they notice every day. For example, it’s long been recognized that the hospital complex could benefit from better respite areas for patients and their families; a Family Garden will help fill that gap. “We want patients, families, and employees to feel nurtured in their physical environment,” LeBlanc says.
The Helping Hands Fund initiative also achieves a goal employees have long sought. Joan Richardson, medical director for inpatient services and leader of the initiative, told the kick-off audience she has watched employees reach into their own pockets to give patients money. Now these compassionate staffers will be able to funnel that money into a permanent endowment for miscellaneous patient expenses—prescription drugs, transportation from the hospital, or equipment such as walkers that will ease a patient’s transition home. Moreover, these indigent care funds will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous grant from the Herzog Foundation.
These giving opportunities are already resonating with members of the UTMB community, who have generously contributed more than seven million dollars toward the twenty-five million dollar goal. William C. Levin, UTMB president emeritus, offered one of the first Family Matters campaign gifts, pledging fifty thousand dollars to endow a lectureship in hematology and oncology. UTMB President John D. Stobo and his wife, Mary Ann, also gave a lead gift, establishing an award in Oslerian Medicine to support students from all four schools who demonstrate the ideals of Sir William Osler, the Canadian physician who championed the cause of compassionate, patient-centered medicine.
Every gift will be recognized, regardless of the amount, LeBlanc says. He notes, “We’ve had donations of one dollar and donations of one million dollars, and all are welcome.” In a speech at the campaign launch, UTMB’s First Lady Mary Ann Stobo made the point plainly: “Any one person can influence the direction of the university,” she said. “It’s not how much you give, but that you give.”