In June, the Foundation team launched an internal campaign focused on feeding the hungry and raised $11,500 for the local Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. We set our sights on more national food shortage issues in July, supporting No Kid Hungry.
As August approached and we considered where to direct our continued giving, a dire situation arose very close to us. Our next-door neighbors at the Cedars Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing facility, became a COVID-19 hot spot. The virus raged through the facility, infecting 96 of 112 residents and 44 staff members. Tragically, 20 people lost their lives and more than 40 were hospitalized. In an attempt to mitigate the spread, residents were confined to their rooms most of the late spring and summer, with doors closed for several weeks when the situation was at its worst.
The Center is the only rehabilitation and long-term care facility in the area that accepts Medicaid patients. During normal times, they operate on a constrained budget, and the pandemic has left them with even less disposable spending for the residents and staff. Moreover, with residents confined to their rooms without visitors, the day-to-day life of many at the facility became solitary.
We reached out to the Center's resident engagement director, Margaret Thacker, to see what we could do to help. Margaret prepared a wish list, including meal deliveries for the residents, boxed lunches for staff, coloring books, markers, and activity and puzzle books to pass the time.
We began our campaign by sending each resident a personally addressed, handwritten note. The Foundation team and their families wrote letters, colored drawings, and created artwork that we delivered with homemade cookies and treats.
As word spread about the campaign to help the Center, an anonymous Foundation donor generously offered to match 100 percent of what we raised. Thanks to the enthusiasm of our staff and the matching contribution, we raised $20,000! Additionally, Crutchfield Corporation donated a 75-inch television for the Center's dining room.
Now that the money has been raised, campaign fulfillment is in full swing. So far, we've provided two iPads that have enabled the residents to video chat with friends and family, a daily subscription to our local newspaper, and two meal deliveries for the residents and staff, as well as treats like donuts and ice cream. We have also delivered dozens of activity books, markers, colored pencils, and magazines to help the residents pass the time.
This winter, we plan to upgrade their entertainment capabilities with additional speakers for the dining room and a microphone so they can enjoy church services and live music. For the holidays, the Foundation team is sponsoring an "Angel Tree" program where each resident will make a small wish list. Margaret explained that local churches usually spearhead this project, but due to the pandemic, many have indicated that they will be unable to contribute as they have in the past. We want to ensure that every resident has a happy holiday and knows that someone cares.
Next spring, we will concentrate on beautifying the exterior of the facility. We plan to build two raised garden beds at wheelchair height, which will allow the residents to plant flowers and vegetables. We have also ordered 12 birdfeeders to be placed outside the residents' windows.
The feedback from the Center has been very positive. Engagement director Margaret recently said to us, "The Foundation team has gone above and beyond and have made so many workers and elders happy with your kind and generous gifts. Thank you again from the bottoms of our hearts."
This giving effort has shown that the Foundation team's commitment to helping others knows no bounds. Through teamwork and generosity, we've done our best to make a positive impact in our community, while ourselves receiving the best gift of all – the warmth and satisfaction that comes from helping those in need.
Michelle Majorin is the Executive Assistant at the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and has spearheaded the Foundation's community giving efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.