September 15, 2006

Ambitious goal set for 2006 Community Giving Campaign

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At this week’s kickoff of the Community Giving Campaign, Vanderbilt’s Toby Hines talks about how proceeds from the annual fund-raising effort helped his family, including faithful dog Baxter.
Photo by Susan Urmy

Ambitious goal set for 2006 Community Giving Campaign

More than 300 Vanderbilt employees came together Tuesday in the Student Life Center Ballroom to kick off the 2006 Community Giving Campaign, called “Your Gift. Your Choice.”

Department coordinators were challenged to lead their colleagues in reaching this year's target of $825,000 in Vanderbilt employee contributions to four designated campaign federations representing hundreds of charitable and public service organizations at work in Middle Tennessee.

Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, is chairman of the 2006 fund-raising effort. He encouraged department coordinators to make this year's campaign a success by hitting the target and going even further.

“Now is the time for us to shine a light in our community,” said Gabbe. “Every pledge matters and will make a difference.”

Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said the annual campaign brings the entire Vanderbilt community together with a common goal.

“There is hardly a more important project at Vanderbilt than the success of this campaign,” said Jacobson.

“With your help, the money we raise will go to hundreds of agencies and will help more than 1 million people in Middle Tennessee.”

Over the coming weeks, department coordinators will be connecting with each of the more than 18,000 employees throughout the Medical Center and University to ask each to make his or her own personal contribution. The deadline for this year's campaign is Nov. 1.

David Johnson, M.D., director of VUMC's Division of Hematology/Oncology, represented the Community Health Charities, a network of health-related charitable agencies.

He knows firsthand how big a difference campaigns such as this can make. Soon after Johnson noticed a scratch hadn't healed in weeks and he had lost weight, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A well-respected oncologist, Johnson admits he was a difficult patient.

“All my thoughts were directed to my wife and 10-year-old daughter and how my cancer would impact them,” he said.

Johnson wouldn't talk to his family about his illness, so his wife turned to the American Cancer Society for help in getting her husband and family through the situation.

That was 18 years ago, and Johnson is now healthy and his wife is an American Cancer Society volunteer.

Next up, the audience met Barbara Price, a VISTA volunteer for the Tennessee Literary Coalition (TLC), a member of Community Shares of Tennessee, which is a federation of organizations dedicated to social change.

“Literacy is a problem that impacts so many other social and economic problems,” said Price, who is developing training programs and systems to ensure Middle Tennesseans have access to literacy resources.

Toby Hines, an electrician in Plant Operations, also shared his story.

Before the April 7, tornado touched down in Gallatin, Hines crated his dog Baxter and headed to Vanderbilt for the second shift. A few hours later, he saw his demolished home on television. Hines's wife and two children weren't at home, but Baxter had been.

They found him the next day running loose in the neighbor's yard with some serious injuries that he's since recovered from. In the aftermath, the Hines family relied on the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, which are two United Way agencies.

The kickoff event ended on a high note when Oliver Middle School music teacher Susan Waters told the audience how the Nashville Alliance for Public Education (NAPE) put much-needed instruments in the hands of her students.

For more information about the 2006 Community Giving Campaign, call 343-8759, e-mail or visit