Saturday, February 16, 2008

An eye opener

“What an eye opener,” said an employee this week after attending the annual meeting of the Employee Community Service Fund. His e-mail said, “I think CGH employees really don’t know what’s going on with the employee fund.”

What’s going on is the good, quiet work of CGH people.

For more than a decade, the Employee Fund has helped members of the CGH family who experience unexpected financial hardship. The help can go to any member of the hospital family, employees, retirees, or active volunteers. The hardships involve emergencies, tragedies, and difficult situations – a house fire, the death of a loved one, or financial problems following a divorce or illness.

Such situations are varied, and each is handled privately, one-on-one, by a member of the 14-person panel that governs the Employee Fund.

When I mentioned the employee’s e-mail to panel-member Maureen Blackmer, she said that it’s not easy to talk about the work of the Fund because each situation requires confidentiality. “Some situations are heartbreaking,” she said. “Until you hear about them, you don’t appreciate the need. It’s so important for the Fund to help.”

Last year the Employee Fund helped two-thirds of all who applied for assistance. In all, 22 applicants received emergency assistance totaling $18,466.

In addition the Fund helped the United Way of Central New York, which received $28,450, thanks to the generosity of employees and others.

The donations helped 31 specific United Way agencies, including AIDS Community Resources, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Canine Helpers for the Handicapped, Dunbar Center, Hope for the Bereaved, Hospice, Syracuse Jewish Family Service, Catholic Charities, the Rescue Mission, and Vera House.

What was the source of such generosity? There were 500 donors to last fall's Employee Fund campaign, and the average gift was $91.51. To each of the employees, retirees, and volunteers who made a donation, thank you.

Thank you to Nancy Thompson for her work as Chairperson of the Employee Fund. And thanks also to all members of the Fund: Maureen Blackmer, Kristin Dombroske, Tracy Fenner (secretary), Donna King, Melissa Martin, Debby Michaels, Gillian Ottman, Ken Redmore, Phil Sherwood (treasurer), George Slavinski, Nancy Towne (vice chairperson), Jean Waldron, and John Zacharek.

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