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(This article is part of Virginia Gay Hospital’s bi-annual publication, “Thrive” Fall/Winter 2017 issue. An online version of the entire publication can be found at https://myvgh.org/thrive/)

We believe the legacy of Virginia Walcutt Gay’s establishing donation is still alive in every act of generosity bestowed on Virginia Gay Hospital and Clinics. Virginia moved back to Ohio to be close to family after the death of her husband. Her gift arrived 38 years after she had moved from the community. Worth more than $1 million when adjusted for inflation, Virginia’s gift surprised Vinton, a community without a hospital but a community Virginia held close to her heart.

“I have an affection for Vinton and its people because most of the
years of my life were spent in it and among its people. They were my happiest years.”
— Virginia Walcutt Gay

Generosity is an integral part of health care in a small community

We live in a troubled world where humanitarian disasters that might have escaped our attention in times past now instantly grab headlines, often on our smartphones. When disasters strike we want to help, and as a nation our citizens are often extremely generous. It’s also true that very personal disasters of all kinds befall friends, neighbors and loved ones every day, but meeting those needs is sadly often more complicated.

If someone can’t afford a necessary diagnostic test, do they tell all their friends? What if someone desperately needs a wheelchair or other piece of medical equipment or has high deductible costs to pay? Where do they turn?

Those are among the many circumstances often met by the Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation. Here is a quick compendium of Foundation programs to which you could choose to make a donation. Together, the programs of the Virginia Gay Health Care Foundation provide a wide variety of health care needs in Benton County. Best of all, even $10 can do a lot!

Reach Out & Read at Virginia Gay clinics is part of a nationwide program touching the lives of 4.7 million children. During pediatric visits young patients are given a free book made possible by the Foundation’s many generous donors. Nurses take a few moments to read a paragraph or two and to talk about reading with the family. The program has access to special pricing made possible by Scholastic Books and prefers to give new books to the children. It’s easy to make a small donation with a credit card on the Virginia Gay Health Care Foundation’s website. Visit myvghfoundation.org and click on Donate Now under Giving.

You can make a big difference in a young child’s life with a gift of only $10.

At the far end of the giving spectrum are larger gifts made available through careful planning with tax professionals, accountants and attorneys. Virginia Walcutt Gay’s gift established the hospital. Gifts of land made construction of the clinic possible in the late 70’s. Other large gifts have constructed additions to the hospital and helped purchase major pieces of equipment. To learn more visit www.myvghfoundation.org/planned-giving.

The key is to open a discussion with your advisors and begin the process of considering what you would like to leave as a lasting legacy to your loved ones and your community.

Tom Stueck is an employee of Cargill and Cindi Stueck works in acute care at Virginia Gay. Together they helped our community by securing a $50,000 donation from Cargill to help the hospital establish a behavioral health program. In 2017 Cargill donated $50 million through employee-led councils providing support for local charitable and civic organizations and programs such as food relief agencies, school and youth programs, and local environmental projects. If you would like more information for prospective corporate donors, contact Robin Martin, Foundation Director, at 319-472-6375 or by email at rmartin@vghinc.com.

Have some fun at the

The holidays are a lousy time to be in the hospital. One purpose of the Holiday Tree Walk is to brighten the mood of those who are in the hospital as well as those who visit loved ones. Donors set up fully decorated trees in the lobby and leave them as a donation. Trees are sold through a silent auction. The Holiday Tree Walk raises as much as $10,000 and has put happy faces on visitors and patients for eight years. All funds are used by the Foundation for projects and equipment.

Beware! The range of creativity stretches the meaning of “tree” in ways you might never have imagined!

Annual Campaign

This is the 25th anniversary of the Tree of Lights program that was started by Ruth Mayhew using the large pine tree that once grew where the fountain is now. Donations added lights to the tree in memory of loved ones, and this annual campaign has been a hit ever since.

All gifts are welcomed and every dollar raised improves the health and well-being of Virginia Gay patients. Tree of Lights donations have helped build additions to the hospital, have contributed to construction of the new clinic, and have provided funds for purchasing equipment for health providers to use every day.

The Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation’s approach to gifts of land is unique. Urban hospitals usually sell the land, but at Virginia Gay a five-member volunteer board of Farm Trustees works directly with tenants farming donated land to provide stewardship and to provide VGH with a fair return on the value of the land. The Farm Trustees are Dean Schminke, Marty Ternus, Pete Burmeister, John Ketchen and Kyle Schminke. Virginia Gay Hospital and Clinics would not be what it is today without the generous gifts of farmland and the dedicated Farm Trustees who have donated their time and expertise, including those currently serving and those who have served in the past.

In addition to the planned events and annual giving opportunities of the Foundation, employees of Virginia Gay use dress-down Friday events to support a wide range of important causes. Events have raised funds for the Knox Blocks Foundation providing Owlet socks to prevent deaths from SIDS, the Hawkeye Area Down Syndrome Association and Friends of the Shelter. The most recent dress-down event was held on October 13th to raise funds for the University of Iowa students’ Dance Marathon supporting pediatric cancer patients at UI hospitals.

Gifts of Hope was established in 2012 to provide financial support to women who experience difficulty paying for routine screenings or treatments. There is no application necessary; recipients only need to mention to their VGH health-care provider that they would appreciate financial assistance. Survivors of Benton County, a group of women who have dealt with breast cancer, have donated more than $51,000 of the total $82,000 in contributions to the Gifts of Hope program, raising these funds through the annual Party in Pink 5k event held in conjunction with Vinton’s Party In The Park. The Murphy Memorial Golf Tournament has also been a substantial contributor to Gifts of Hope and many other Virginia Gay initiatives.

Several scholarships administered by the Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation have been established by members of the community. Examples include the Dr. Tony Anthony Scholarship given to Nursing and Rehab staff who wish to continue their education and training. The Anthony family established the scholarship to honor his many years of service as a physician in Vinton and in gratitude for the care he received as a resident of VGH Nursing & Rehab. Another example is the Jeanette M. Miller Nursing Scholarship established in memory of Jeanette Miller, a hard-working woman who wanted to generously support the people and institutions that cared of her. Her scholarship is awarded annually to one senior in each of the school districts of Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, and Vinton-Shellsburg who plan to pursue a career in nursing. In addition, this scholarship is also awarded to current VGH nurses who are furthering his or her education.

The Plaza of Heroes is another ongoing fundraiser which supports the work of the hospital and clinics. Bricks are purchased and placed around the fountain in front of the hospital’s main entrance to honor the memory of loved ones.

The VGH Health Care Foundation Legacy Circle is a partnership of supporters who have contributed to the Tradition of Giving established by Virginia Walcutt Gay when she gave the city of Vinton $50,000 ($1,000,000 in today’s valuation) to build a hospital. Legacy Circle contributors have given $10,000 or more to support the mission of Virginia Gay Hospitals and Clinics. Some donors made cash donations while others included the hospital in their estate plans. Bequests through wills and trusts, annuity plans, or life insurance arrangements are all commonly used vehicles for leaving gifts to the Virginia Gay Hospital Health Care Foundation. Call the Foundation office at 319-472-6375 to learn more.