September 23, 2005

Ambitious goal set for this year’s Community Giving Campaign

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Vanderbilt’s Karen Dolan, recently diagnosed with ALS, tears up after receiving a standing ovation at this week’s kickoff of the 2005 Community Giving Campaign.
photo by Dana Johnson

Ambitious goal set for this year’s Community Giving Campaign

VUMC’s Bud Rice, deaf since birth, told the kickoff audience how organizations benefitted by Vanderbilt’s Community Giving Campaign have helped him.
photo by Dana Johnson

VUMC’s Bud Rice, deaf since birth, told the kickoff audience how organizations benefitted by Vanderbilt’s Community Giving Campaign have helped him.
photo by Dana Johnson

Nearly 350 Vanderbilt University and Medical Center employees came together Tuesday in the Student Life Center Ballroom for the 2005 Community Giving Campaign kickoff. Department coordinators were challenged to lead their colleagues in reaching this year's goal of giving $820,000 in Vanderbilt employee contributions to four designated campaign federations representing hundreds of charitable and public service organizations at work in Middle Tennessee.

After leading a successful campaign in 2004, Kevin Myatt, associate vice chancellor and chief human resources officer, is returning as chairman in 2005. He encouraged department coordinators to do their part in making this year's campaign a success.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, “This year's campaign is even more important to us,” Myatt said. “Our Community Giving Campaign partners have to stretch even farther than they've been asked to in the past. The time is here, the need is great and our opportunity is great.”

Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said the annual campaign brings the entire University together on behalf of the community.

“There is not a single University event that is more important to the health and wellness of our community,” Jacobson said. “Our work in this campaign will affect literally the lives of more than 1 million people in Middle Tennessee. These people and families are served by the hundreds of agencies and programs that are connected to Community Shares, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Community Health Charities of Tennessee, and a new organization for us, the Nashville Alliance for Public Education.”

Chancellor Gordon Gee agreed.

“When I arrived at Vanderbilt five years ago, it struck me how inclined our University is to share, not only our time and our talent, but also our own resources,” he said.

“This campaign means to shake that tree, to motivate those impulses and habits which are already so typical of Vanderbilt. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, making gifts that land more locally may seem difficult or even hard to justify. But please understand, and be sure to communicate during the campaign, that the needs of our local community, which are always constant, have grown, and some of that growth is indeed due to the hurricane.”

Over the coming weeks, department coordinators will be reaching out to employees across the Medical Center and University to deliver pledge cards and ask each person working at Vanderbilt to make his own 'commitment to caring,' the theme once again for this year's campaign.

Joel Lee, associate vice chancellor for Medical Center Communications, took to the stage again for this year's kickoff ceremony, introducing department coordinators to some Vanderbilt employees whose lives have been touched by one of the agencies represented by one of the four designated federations.

Karen Dolan, formerly the graduate school registrar at Vanderbilt, joined Lee to share her story in an effort to inspire Vanderbilt staff and faculty to dig deeper this year. Dolan worked at Vanderbilt for nearly 26 years before receiving a diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in May 2005. People with ALS face a form of gradual paralysis that is currently untreatable. Dolen has received assistance through the ALS Society, a member organization of Community Health Charities.

Speaking through her husband, Thomas, Dolan said, “Giving part of yourself is easy, fulfilling and fun. Please participate in life, live well and be happy.”

Bud Rice has worked in Environmental Services at VUMC for 19 years. He joined Lee on stage to tell campaign coordinators how his life has been touched by two United Way of Metropolitan Nashville organizations supported by Vanderbilt's campaign efforts — the League for the Deaf and the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences.

Rice has been deaf from birth. Speaking through an interpreter, he said that as a young child he learned sign language at the Bill Wilkerson Center, and that he has received assistance and found fellowship throughout his life through the League for the Deaf.

“You've got to support these different organizations,” Rice said. “They help people like me to find jobs and they help people in need of services.”

Later in the program, VUMC News and Public Affairs Staff Photographer Dana Johnson spoke on behalf of Community Health Charities. Johnson, 33, has cystic fibrosis, a disease that currently carries a life expectancy of 35. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a member organization of Community Health Charities.

“Finding a cure for this disease is really a big deal for me,” she said. About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, she said, “Their main function is to provide money toward research to help us live longer.”

For more information about the 2005 Community Giving Campaign, call 343-8759, e-mail or visit