Reviewing applications and considering financial support for Douglas County not-for-profit organizations is a labor of love for members of Mercy’s Community Gifting Committee.
Story by Dick Baltus Photo by Robin Loznak
Myrtle Creek’s community pool has benefited from it. So have Elkton’s butterfly pavilion and Oakland Elementary School’s music program.
The list of organizations receiving funds from CHI Mercy Health’s Community Gifting Committee gets longer every year. Composed of Mercy employees, the committee’s mission is “to review applications and make charitable grant funding decisions to support Douglas County (not-for-profit) organizations engaged in health-related community building/development.“
But that makes the committee’s responsibilities sound almost job-like, and clearly Norma Davidson and other members of the group are having too much fun for this to be considered work.
“It really makes us feel good to know we are helping people in our communities who sometimes desperately need help,” says the 18-year employee of Mercy’s laboratory.
Since 2014, the Gifting Committee has been allocated money by Mercy Administration to fund community activities that its members research and approve. In the early days of the committee, Davidson says, most of the applications came from Roseburg groups. But over time word that funds were available has spread throughout the county.
Davidson did a lot of the word spreading herself. “Word of mouth spread pretty quickly in Roseburg, but not the rest of the county,” Davidson says. “So I made a point of finding a contact person in almost every community in the county so we could get the word out better.”
"STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO LEARN MUCH EASIER WHEN THEY HAVE WORKING EQUIPMENT, AND BECAUSE OF MERCY'S GENEROSITY, WE ARE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO PROVIDE INSTRUMENTS TO ALL STUDENTS INTERESTED IN MUSIC."
-Matt Hill, music teacher, Oakland Elementary School
Teresa Myers, a technician in Mercy’s pharmacy, says serving on the committee has opened her eyes to the generous nature not only of her employer but the Douglas County community in general.
“I am amazed by the compassion of our community,” she says. “I had no idea about the wide variety of projects that go on around us benefiting people in Douglas County. I’ve felt honored to play a small part in the success of their projects.”
Reviewing applications and deciding which projects to fund is a serious responsibility, says the committee’s senior management sponsor, Kathleen Nickel. “I have been so impressed with the committee’s thoughtful approach and the hearts they bring to making these often very difficult decisions,” she says.
That sentiment is seconded by Mercy’s community gifting facilitator Sarah Baumgartner. “These applications come from our friends, neighbors and community members, and each is considered thoughtfully and with the utmost respect to the project.”
Among the most memorable projects the committee has supported, Myers lists the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation program that takes special needs kids out for a fun day on the river; the Friday Snack Program at a local grade school, which ensures students who don’t have a reliable food supply have meals on the weekends; and Source One Serenity, which takes disabled veterans on fly-fishing retreats.
The list goes on, and committee members would like to see it go on even longer. Douglas County not-for-profit organizations interested in applying for funds are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.