September 28, 2007

Community Giving kickoff sets $875,000 goal

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Allen Gracey, right, talks about his family’s experiences with juvenile diabetes at the Community Giving Campaign kickoff. On hand were Vanderbilt’s Wright Pinson, M.D., and Carole Bartoo, R.N. (photo by Neil Brake)

Community Giving kickoff sets $875,000 goal

More than 400 Vanderbilt employees gathered Thursday in the Student Life Center Ballroom to kick off the 2007 Community Giving Campaign with several reminders from senior leaders about the importance of the annual fund-raising drive.

Department coordinators were challenged to lead their colleagues in reaching this year's target of $875,000 in Vanderbilt employee contributions to four designated campaign federations representing hundreds of charitable and public service organizations at work in Middle Tennessee.

Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, said the annual campaign represents how the collective can make a profound difference in our community.

“When we combine our resources with our desire to improve the community around us, we are unstoppable,” Jacobson said.

Taking his cue from the opening performance by Vanderbilt Community Chorus, Interim Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said, “When we work together, we are a chorus, a powerful engine for creating effect.

“Our concerns about quality and access to health care, about our environment and about education can be addressed much more powerfully because we do it together.”

Over the coming weeks, department coordinators will be connecting with each of the nearly 20,000 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. 2.

Emcees Wright Pinson, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs, and Carole Bartoo, R.N., senior public information officer for Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, introduced the audience to several people who have seen the various charities in action, including Allen Gracey, a local accountant and business owner, whose daughter, Katie, 11, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes two years ago.

Gracey shared how the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), part of Community Health Charities, has made an impact on learning how to live with the disease.

Elizabeth Ross, from the Vanderbilt Department of Alumni Relations, talked about the Cumberland River Compact.

She noted that water quality impacts everyone's life and that most people take the quantity and quality of water for granted. The Cumberland River Compact, a member of Community Shares, works to protect natural resources.

Glenn McCombs, Ph.D., and student Gerald Wakefield talked about the Nashville Alliance for Public Education and specifically The School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt, a part-time high school on Vanderbilt's campus serving grades 9-12. McCombs directs the program which takes high performing students who are interested in science and provides access to a university culture.

Margie Gale, Nurse Wellness Specialist at the Vanderbilt Employee Assistance Program, represented the United Way and spoke about how the department helps more than 1,000 employees each year with everything from work and home conflicts to helping in times of severe crisis.

She and her colleagues are in constant communication with United Way agencies such as Second Harvest, Alive Hospice and the 2-1-1 Referral System.

“We call on United Way agencies in a majority of our work, because these agencies understand the services needed most,” said Gale. “We wouldn't be nearly as effective without a partner like the United Way.”

Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at the Peabody College, is chairperson of the 2007 fund-raising effort.

“This campaign is our chance to make Nashville a much better place to live,” she said. “When we all participate in this way, we show the caring human face of Vanderbilt.”

This year's campaign features incentive prizes such as drawings every Monday for online donors. All donors who give a gift by Nov. 2 will have a chance to win two round-trip tickets to New York City on jetBlue Airways.

For more information about the 2007 Community Giving Campaign, call 343-8759 or visit