by Mercy's Joanne Cox
CENTRAL U.S. – A dollar will buy a whole pound of food for a needy family in Independence, Kan., through the Community Food Program. Gifts from Mercy co-workers will help put those groceries on the table in the coming year.
A recent fund drive among co-workers across Mercy will bolster hometown service programs in Independence and other communities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
In total, the “Mercy Way Campaign” raised more than $2 million through cash gifts and co-worker paycheck deductions. In most Mercy locations, funds raised will support the United Way organization and its mission to fund various social service agencies. In some Mercy communities, contributions also were designated for internal needs, such as co-worker crisis funds.
“It’s no surprise our co-workers are so giving and compassionate,” said Patty Arnold, Mercy’s vice president of philanthropy. “Time and time again, they step up not only to provide for our fellow co-workers in need but they give to support our communities as well.”
In Independence, the local version of United Way is known as Independence Community Chest. Its annual fund drive supports 23 service agencies – from the local animal shelter to the fire department to the Boy Scouts – and the Community Food Program. The food program is administered through the Community Access Center (CAC), a “one-stop shop” housing many of the town’s social service agencies. Susan Hill, chairman of the CAC board of directors, says the center relies heavily on the annual fund drive.
“Community Chest provides up to 40 percent of the funds needed to buy food for our families in need,” Hill said, noting that about 125 families (as many as 350 individuals) are served monthly by the food program in this town of only 9,000 residents. And in today’s tough economy, the demand continues to rise.
“We have had several instances of families coming in for the first time due to layoffs,” Hill said. “These individuals have been very appreciative of the assistance we provided. A single mother of three came in for financial assistance and received food. She left with tears in her eyes, stating she did not know what she would have done without the assistance.”
While economic realities hit home for everyone across Mercy, with the four-state area experiencing an average unemployment rate upwards of 6.5 percent, co-workers dug deep this year to support their local causes, with many of the smaller rural Mercy communities far exceeding their fund-raising goals.
Co-workers in Rolla, Mo., blew their $3,000 campaign goal out of the water, raising a whopping $13,464. Likewise was the story in Mountain View, Mo., where co-workers raised 264 percent of their goal, and in Fort Scott, Kan., where the dollars came in at 126 percent of the goal. In Independence, co-workers anted up more than $31,000 (633 percent of their $5,000 goal).
“I was absolutely amazed by the generosity of our co-workers during this campaign,” said Eric Ammons, president of Mercy Hospital Independence. “Not only in Independence but all across Mercy, our co-workers care about each other and our communities.”
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.
Mercy Health Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, raises money and community awareness for Mercy. It is dependent on the support of individuals, corporations and foundations to help Mercy meet community health care needs. Mercy Health Foundation invests its philanthropic support in facilities and the advancement of technologies and programs to enhance Mercy’s ability to provide excellence in health care. For more information, visit mercy.net/giving.