December 10, 2018

Hardship Fund helps employees with unexpected expenses

Hardships may include an illness or accident, burial expenses after the death of a family member or relocation costs after being displaced from affordable housing.


The Vanderbilt University Medical Center Faculty and Staff Hardship Fund helps employees who experience unexpected financial emergencies.

The fund accepts donations from employees and employee groups. About 25 employees made individual donations through payroll deduction and 16 others gave one-time gifts to the fund this year, said Jim Kendall, LCSW, CWAP, manager of Work/Life Connections.

“It is also because of the Medical Center’s generosity that the fund has stayed afloat as the needs have periodically exceeded the donations.”

The fund, which was established in 1994, assists employees experiencing a temporary hardship due to a significant life event. To qualify, an employee must have been at VUMC for at least a year and be in good standing. The fund does not assist with chronic financial difficulty that occurs when someone’s expenses regularly exceed his or her income.

““This is one of the major ways we can help each other. One of the criteria is that an individual has a hardship that could not have been predicted,” Kendall said. “Normally, that employee is doing OK, but something comes along that throws him or her off. We don’t pay the employee. We pay a bill, and it goes through our accounting system.”

Those hardships may include an illness or accident, burial expenses after the death of a family member or moving expenses after being displaced from affordable housing.

A committee of six employee volunteers review applications to the hardship fund without knowing the names of the applicants. Any identifying information on the applications is blocked out.

While the fund typically experiences an increase in donations during the end of the year holidays, the needs remain constant. One change is that there has been an uptick in employees seeking assistance with expected expenses for who have been displaced by redevelopment within Nashville’s urban core.

Contributions are not tax deductible according to Internal Revenue Service guidelines because it is an employer-administrated and supported fund.

The fund has proven to be a good retention tool because it helps our employees at a time of dire need, instills loyalty and helps solidify a sense of community, Kendall said.

There are several ways employees can support the fund.

  • Go to this link, select “other” from the designation drop-down menu, then type “Faculty/Staff Hardship Fund” into the description.
  • Payroll deduction donation: Contact  connections@vumc.org  or call 615-936-1327 for details.
  • Kroger Plus Card: Designate the Vanderbilt Faculty and Hardship Fund as the recipient of the Kroger Community Rewards program (this needs to be updated annually).  http://www.vanderbilt.edu/usac/initiatives/kroger-rewards.php
  • Recycled ink cartridges: You can also call Guy Brown at 615-777-1500 or contact Guy Brown Customer Care to get boxes for laser and ink jet toner cartridges with pre-paid, pre-addressed labels delivered to you free of charge. Additionally, you can download a pre-paid shipping label here.  The labels are coded to indicate they came from Vanderbilt, so they know to give the proceeds to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Susan Gray School and the Work/Life Connections Faculty and Staff Hardship Fund.
  • Drop in the bucket: The Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital gift shop has a donation box next to the cash register.

Photo: iStock