Generous donors support beneficial programs at McLaren Port Huron

Lynn Griffor, foundation executive director, Jennifer Montgomery, hospital CEO and Jack Belyea, director of Facilities stand in the new lobby made possible by donor funds.
Across the nation, hospitals are at the heart of most communities. They are places of hope and healing, where families gather, and where dedicated staff work to make a difference. As the area's leading provider of health care in the Blue Water community, this is certainly true for McLaren Port Huron.

Continuing the legacy of doing what's best for its community, McLaren officials recognized a demonstrated need for more access to high-quality care. In 2016, a new 30,000 square foot Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute opened to provide comprehensive cancer services under one roof. In 2018, a 174,000 square foot patient tower was completed and now offer some of the best patient amenities around.

As a non-profit hospital, revenue earned is money re-invested back into the hospital to purchase or upgrade technology and Karen Theume plays the harp in the cancer center lobby and in-patient oncology floor, soothing both patients and their loved ones.
make facility improvements. While these investments are vital, the hospital's non-profit status makes for small operating margins.

It's why the McLaren Port Huron Foundation plays such a vital role in complementing the hospital itself, providing the hospital, its patients, and even the staff with equipment, programs, and support services that might not otherwise be available.

State-of-the-art stretchers. Financial support for cancer patients. Continuing education opportunities for staff. Even a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner that specializes in end-of-life care.

All of these and much, much more made possible by the foundation and its donors, including individuals, corporations and other foundations.

"We are honored to work with patients and families that are grateful for the care they received, and want to give back," says Lynn Griffor, executive director for McLaren Port Huron Foundation.

"A prostate cancer patient recently made a $50,000 donation designated for the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Port Huron. That's the type of generosity we often see from this community."

The McLaren Port Huron Foundation is governed by a local board of directors, and all of the money raised stays here, in our local community. Gifts that are received are invested into the hospital and its services. Griffor's job, she says, is to make sure that donors understand the current needs at the hospital and how donations can make an impact.

Transparency and open communication is key. It's important to let people know just how their money is improving others' lives.

Another part of the foundation's work is to recognize donors for their generosity.

"One of my favorite things is to wander through the hospital and every few steps see a donor's name on the wall or a plaque outside of a room. It's a visible reminder that patients, staff and community members care about his hospital and support the work we do," Griffor says.

Chuck and Chris Warczinsky of Allegra Printing sponsor McLaren Foundation events annually.A large number of donations come from individuals, even in the form of gifts from wills and estate plans. Those donations provide financial support to cancer patients that face financial hardships. It provides mammograms. It's helped remodel conference rooms and other physical infrastructure; the foundation has raised more than $4 million toward a $5 million commitment toward hospital renovations.

There's also the Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner that specializes in end-of-life care. Karen Theume plays the harp in the cancer center lobby and in-patient oncology floor, soothing both patients and their loved ones. It's something not in the hospital budget but made possible through the foundation and its donors.

"We have had many patients tell us how soothing the sound of the harp is during their time of healing," says Nurse Manager Stephanie McLaren.

"The music is so soothing and relaxing and has a calming effect. We deeply value her on the unit and the patients appreciate it more than we can express."

For all the time and effort spent in raising funds to improve hospital equipment and infrastructure, and to support the patients themselves, McLaren Port Huron Foundation also provides a number of programs that offers assistance to hospital employees.

The foundation offers student loans and scholarships for staff to progress in their careers. They also provide an opportunity forKatlyn Petipren, an ER nurse and Christine Shigley, chair of the Golf Committee with new trauma stretchers, purchased with funds raised during the annual golf outing. employees to make donations through the Employees that Care Club, with donations made through a payroll deduction process. Those donations are then offered back to employees experiencing financial hardships.

Griffor says that almost 60 percent of hospital employees contribute to the Employees that Care Club.

In addition to individual donations, another large piece of the foundation's financial puzzle comes in the way of its two large annual events and the corporate sponsorships that help make them possible.

The McLaren Port Huron Golf Classic and the Festival of Trees are two events that invite the community to come out and help support the foundation yet all the while having a good time.

As transparency in fundraising is key for the organization, the foundation targets a specific upgrade that each event will raise money toward.

"We purchase specific things each year so people can go into the hospital and see what their money bought," says Christine Shigley, chair of the Golf Committee.

"These are things that aren't necessarily in the hospital budget each year, but keep McLaren up-to-date."

In 2018, for example, the $70,000 raised from the golf outing was used to purchase state-of-the-art trauma stretchers. Among their features are digital weight displays that help hospital staff in administering treatment more efficiently and effectively. Money raised from the 2019 Golf Classic will purchase new ultrasound machines for the operating room and catheterization lab.

This year's Golf Classic will be the organization's 40th annual such event. To celebrate, the golf outing and evening dinner and party will honor the Golf Classic's inaugural year of 1979 with a disco theme. There will be golf flights and contests, poker runs, and raffles. Participants can golf, attend the dinner and party, or both.

This year's Golf Classic is on Tuesday, July 9, at the Port Huron Golf Club.

"People can be charitable by writing checks and be done with it but this way you can enjoy yourself while also helping a good cause," Shigley says.

Both the Golf Classic and Festival of Trees thrive on corporate sponsorships. Shigley says that organizations are quick to commit as sponsors, with many returning each year.

Chuck and Chris Warczinsky represent one such case, sponsoring foundation events year after year. The Warczinskys own Allegra of Fort Gratiot, which offers marketing, print, and mail services to the region and has been for the past 33 years.

Chuck makes it clear that McLaren's role as a community partner makes it an easy choice when deciding to sponsor the foundation's events.

"The important thing is what they do in the community. Look at the cancer center. You don't have to go out of town to get treatment. They're involved. They enhance the services they offer through the fundraising events. And they buy local and invest back into the community. Plus the care that they give, it's extremely good care," he says.

"They make it as easy as possible when deciding to sponsor."

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