We do a lot of work in developing relationships. We make our calls, we’re out there in the community, we’re seeing people—they know who we are. Baxter Regional Medical Center is a key economic driver of our community of about 11,000, so we are very visible.
What are some ways you engage with the community?
We have the Community Health Education and Support Houses. We had four needs in our community: cancer, diabetes, women’s health, and aging and responded to each. We developed the Peitz Cancer Support House. We developed the Reppell Diabetes Learning Center, and then followed that with the Mruk Family Education Center on Aging and Schliemann Center for Women’s Health Education.
We see about 17,000 clients in those houses, which requires about $400,000 a year, and that’s all funded through our community. We raise that every year. That reaches a lot of folks and touches a lot of folks. Almost every service is free.
For three years now, the foundation has held a Masquerade Ball, a fundraiser benefitting the Baxter Regional Medical Center houses mentioned earlier. What’s the secret to throwing a great masquerade ball?
It was so much fun! We’re a small community, and if people around here go to an event, they like it to be casual. This is the one and only event that the women can get dressed up in beautiful ball gowns. This is very different from any other event that’s around. We try to make it as special as possible. We have a nice reception in the beginning, a great dinner, and a band that comes in from a couple hours away that our guests just love. They will literally dance until midnight.
This is something they’re not going to get anywhere else here. We also had more physicians attend this year than any other event we’ve ever had. It’s probably because we’re a little unusual—we have 45-50% of our physicians give to the foundation.
How else do you engage with staff?
We started an employee fund drive sixteen years ago, and since then, we’ve averaged over 80% of our employees giving to that fund drive. This past year we were up to 87% participation. We have one or two captains or co-captains in every department, and we hold educational sessions where we explain to them the importance of the drive. Then they meet face-to-face with each employee.
We have chosen areas of donation that our folks can really get their arms around. We have an employee crisis fund and a scholarship fund for employees’ children and grandchildren graduating from high school. We also help fund the four community houses. For example, about 12% of our employees have diabetes, so our employees have been able to utilize these houses. Almost everyone will know someone who has benefited.