By Merry Duddley
For most people, the season of giving begins around Thanksgiving and runs through December. But there are many people who need help year-round, not just during the last six weeks of the year. That’s where Saint Michael’s Foundation comes in with its annual Gala for Giving, scheduled for Saturday, November 1, at SentryWorld’s Grand Hall.
Saint Michael’s Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014. Over the years, the foundation has invested millions of dollars to provide critical support to programs and initiatives that have improved the health and healthcare of the community.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Kelly Mortenson, the annual giving and special events coordinator for Saint Michael’s Foundation, about the Gala for Giving and what it means to our community.
SCENE: What is Saint Michael’s Foundation and what are its goals?
Kelly Mortenson (KM): Saint Michael’s Foundation was established in 1989 with a mission to develop, manage and grant charitable support to meet the health care needs of the community. Since then, through the generosity of donors, Saint Michael’s Foundation has distributed more than $3 million in health care programming and services to improve the lives of our patients and their families. In this, our 25th year, we celebrate this wonderful vision and direction for a brighter future established by our founders 25 years ago.
SCENE: The proceeds for the Gala for Giving event go to the Greatest Need Fund of Saint Michael’s Foundation. What does the Greatest Need Fund do?
KM: The Greatest Need Fund is the backbone of the Foundation and provides unrestricted support for vital programs and services that improve the quality of health care services for our patients and families. Gifts to this fund allow the Foundation to respond to a host of health care needs and opportunities that benefit the patients and families of our community. Here are just a few examples:
- Patients who would otherwise choose paying their utility bill over purchasing a prescription are able to acquire long-term and short-term prescription medications, such as insulin and antibiotics.
- Surviving Stroke, Bariatric Support and Cardiac Support groups were formed and have helped our patients heal with the support of others who have shared their journey.
- Thousands of student athletes in our communities receive pre- and post-concussion testing to ensure their brains heal completely before they get back on the field.
- Digital scales are now available for heart failure patients for whom a loss or gain of just one pound is significant to successfully managing their health.
SCENE: Since arrangements are still being finalized for this year’s event, can you give us an idea of what you raised at last year’s Gala for Giving? What prizes were given away?
KM: At last year’s Gala for Giving, more than 140 Gala participants raised more than $89,000 for the Foundation’s new Angel Fund, an amount unmatched in the 24-year Gala for Giving history and far exceeding the original goal of $75,000. The Angel Fund serves Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital and Ministry Medical Group patients by providing assistance to patients uninsured or under-insured and unable to afford an annual mammogram and other breast cancer screenings.
The 2013 Gala, held at the Stevens Point Country Club, featured live music by Uptown, a gourmet dinner, and live and silent auctions featuring items donated by local artists, individual supporters and businesses. Packages included a vacation destination package with travel vouchers for airfare, hotel and restaurant to the destination of choice; 12 tickets to a 2014 Milwaukee Brewers game including transportation in a customized decked-out private bus (with driver) to and from the game and gift certificates for a game party; and an exclusive six-course gourmet meal prepared by Chef Salvatore of Bistro 212. Chef Salvatore is a classically trained European trained chef.
Gala supporters also raised more than $1,000 to help purchase comforting plush robes, iPads and iPods for patient use during cancer treatment at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital and Ministry Medical Group.
SCENE: So what kind of events will make up this year’s Gala for Giving? What are your goals for this year’s event?
KM: The Gala for Giving will be held on Saturday, November 1, at SentryWorld’s Grand Hall. Cocktail hour begins at 6:00 pm with complimentary champagne and hors d’oeuvres, plus a cash bar. During this time, items will be on display for bidding in the silent auction. Then we will have the gourmet dinner and program, including a live auction with auctioneer Jeff Whitrock, president and CEO of Pioneer Bank. The program will be followed by dancing and the results of the silent auction, with live music provided by the Eddie Butts Band.
The goal for this year’s Gala for Giving is to celebrate 25 years of caring for our community and to raise $125,000 for the Greatest Need Fund. Looking to the future, these unrestricted gifts will provide Saint Michael’s Foundation the flexibility to respond to funding requests for health care programs and services as they arise. Additionally, this special celebration hopes to bring awareness to our community about the incredible role the Foundation has played in addressing the health care needs of patients and families during these past 25 years.
SCENE: Do you have other annual events you would like to share with our readers?
KM: On April 25, 2015, we will host our Community Leadership Celebration. During this event, the Saint Michael’s Foundation presents its annual Quality of Life Leadership Award to individuals who have made a significant contribution to enhancing the quality of life for citizens of the surrounding region. Award winners have benefited their community through accomplishments in such areas as community service, education, environmental enhancement or preservation, government service/political action, social/health services, entrepreneurship and/or job creation.
Tickets for this year’s Gala for Giving are $125 per person. For information about how you can attend the Gala for Giving, visit http://ministryhealth.org/SMH/SaintMichaelsFoundation/Events.nws.