Endowment a Forever Gift
The Mercy Medical Center Volunteers recently established its first endowment fund within Mercy Health Foundation to support an annual scholarship for a graduating student volunteer. Bev Fretchel, Scholarship Committee Chairperson, said their inspiration was former volunteer Al Ritsema, who recently established a similar scholarship fund within the Foundation in honor of his wife Wilma. "That led some of us (on the board) to think that we could do something like that." The Volunteers have offered this scholarship to graduating high school seniors, as well as several others for University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh nursing students and radiology technician students, for many years, but this is their first foray into an endowment. "It just made sense to go this route to assure funds will be available every year for the scholarship," said Amy Brownson, Manager of Volunteers Services. The new $10,000 fund will provide an annual scholarship of $500 in perpetuity allowing the MMC Volunteers to focus their fundraising efforts on other hospital projects. From their 2014 proceeds, the MMC Volunteers also provided funding to support palliative care services, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome programming, the Fitness for the Physically Challenged program and the new cancer navigator position at Mercy. "It's rewarding to see some of these things happen. From what we give, we really get back," Bev said.
The MMC Volunteers have been giving generously to support projects at Mercy and community health outreach projects ever since the organization was formed as Mercy Medical Center Auxiliary in 1958. The organizational meeting was held on January 10 of that year and within a few short months, merchandise was purchased for the hospital gift shop and four fundraising events were planned for the summer. Mercy's Volunteers, have not slowed their fundraising efforts from that day until this. Since the late 1980's the organization has chosen to support the hospital by funding specific projects through the Foundation. In the intervening years, MMC Volunteers have raised and generously contributed over $1 million to the Foundation.