By the Gifford Development Team
As we set to writing this blog post in the spirit of the Giving Season and fast-approaching #GivingTuesday (Nov. 27), we spent a few minutes Googling thoughts on giving. The search engine didn’t disappoint. Quotes are plentiful and moving, including these wise words: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” (origins unknown; falsely attributed to Winston Churchill) And, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” (Anne Frank)
So what can we say about giving that hasn’t already been said? Probably not much, if we’re honest, so we’ll do what we do best: we’ll tell you the stories of our colleagues, neighbors, and friends. Local stories. Inspirational stories. Stories that demonstrate the powerful reach of giving and, through acts large and small, the joy to be had from giving.
A few months ago we saw that joy in the wide smiles of a local mother-daughter duo, Shannon Stoddard and grade-schooler Ella, who stopped by Gifford to deliver a bagful of handmade baby beanies for our Birthing Center. Of course, we had to capture the moment for Instagram—who doesn’t love looking at wee knitwear for babies?—but it stuck with us long after the satisfaction brought by the social media likes and comments wore off. Shannon and Ella’s joy stuck with us: They were so happy to be sharing their gift with Gifford babies, and their handmade hats continue to bring joy to new parents.
We witnessed the powerful reach of local giving yet again during Last Mile Ride and a subsequent interview with Chip Milnor, owner of Chip’s Auto & Tire in Randolph. Chip had just been recognized as the 13th annual event’s top fundraiser with $8,525 to support end-of-life care for central Vermonters. He was visibly overcome with emotion during the LMR barbecue, as were many of the 154 bikers and their supporters who sat down to lunch at Gifford after an 80-mile ride through Orange and Windsor counties. Many wiped away tears, embraced, and held hands. For them, it’s clear that Last Mile Ride is more than an excuse to get out on the open road, and as much as it’s a fundraiser, it’s about more than money.
“I think what encourages me is that I’ve lost some good friends up there, and getting to see what everyone puts into Last Mile Ride,” Chip told us, referring to the support LMR provides dying patients and their grieving families. “I’ve always said, everyone congratulates me, but it’s really about the good people who give. I’m just the collector. I do it because of the cause.”
Once more we saw the power of giving while interviewing Dr. Josh White about his work to provide health care in Haiti. We are impressed by his time-management skills. A full-time Gifford medical director, committed ER doctor, family man, and athlete, Dr. White also finds the time and energy to run a nonprofit in Haiti, where he travels a few times a year to work alongside the locals to not only improve health care in the region but also empower the community with self-directed projects for a healthier, more equitable future.
Dr. White is likewise committed to giving here at home and is currently working with Gifford and our local school system to develop an anti-bullying program for students. In a recent letter to parents, he wrote, in part, “Here at Gifford, we believe in being a true partner in our patients’ health. This means more than visits for vaccinations or X-rays in the ER, as health is more than the absence of disease. Being a true partner means that we need to be involved in the community where we are able, and we see it as our responsibility to assist in addressing problems that affect members of our community. … We know that bullying happens here in the Randolph area, and we hope to make a dent in the problem by partnering with our local schools.”
Dr. White’s words echo the inspiration behind this very blog, which we decided to name Healthier Together, a theme which underscores our partnerships and outreach initiatives throughout central Vermont as we work together to achieve our shared health-care goals and strengthen our communities. Gifford has many local partners and supporters who inspire our providers and staff in this mission-driven work, from teachers to law enforcement to the staff at area senior centers, people like:
- Randolph Union High School Athletic Director Steve Croucher, whose passionate commitment to our local student athletes is a driving force behind Gifford’s 2018-2019 athletic training program at the school. “This program is so important for the health, wellness, and safety of our student athletes,” said Steve. “I think our community—especially our high school athletes and their parents—will see just how valuable it is to have an athletic trainer available on a permanent basis.”
- Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Gail Lund-Rowell, who facilitates the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) prevention program, sponsored by Gifford. “If not for our relationship and support from Gifford, our LEAD program would not be the success that it is,” said Gail. “Together our commitment … will build a healthy and happy community.” And,
- Northfield Senior Center Director Briana Howard, who works with Gifford to provide prevention-focused programs. “Gifford is an amazing resource for us,” said Briana. “Our seniors gain valuable knowledge from the presentations given by Gifford’s medical professionals. From foot health to brain health, Gifford is always willing to provide our senior community with the knowledge they need to stay healthy.”
These are but a handful of the people who inspire us each and every day in our work. We regret that we can’t share all of their stories here.
This Giving Season we hope you will consider making a gift to the Fund for Gifford and be a part of enhancing the care programs and outreach initiatives that serve our families, friends, and neighbors—and that make us Healthier Together. We equally value gifts of time and talent, and encourage you to reach out to us about volunteer opportunities at Gifford and with our many community partners. Your support not only helps to sustain Gifford, but also our greater community of residents of all ages.
“We make a life by what we give.” This quote that we shared at the beginning of our post really resonates with us here, in small-town Vermont, where the impact of giving locally is felt almost immediately, enriching the lives of our neighbors and friends. We are thankful to be a part of this giving community.
Ashley, Bethany, Maryellen, Tammy