MCV Hospitals Auxiliary President Ginny Little, Chief Operating Officer of VCU Hospitals Paul Wesolowski, and MCV Hospitals Auxiliary grant program manager JoAnn Burton.

MCV Hospitals Auxiliary awards $300,000 in departmental grants

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On a rainy afternoon, dozens of volunteers and VCU Health team members left the auditorium of the Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building with smiles on their faces. Sixty of them held large envelopes carrying newly awarded grants back to their teams to fund patient care projects and staff initiatives. All of them had sent grant applications to the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary, a volunteer organization that hosts fundraising activities to benefit VCU Health initiatives and operates the Three Bears Gift Shop at VCU Medical Center, among other efforts.

What you do adds the little extra that makes VCU Health a special place.

 “What you do adds the little extra that makes VCU Health a special place,” said Paul Wesolowski, chief operating officer of VCU Hospitals, as he welcomed attendees to the 2018 MCV Hospitals Auxiliary grant awards ceremony. “Each year, you make it harder for us to select winners,” added Deborah Davis, chief executive officer of VCU Hospitals and Clinics. “Your submissions are proof of your ability to find new paths toward innovation and improving our patient and family experience.” 

Ginny Little, president of the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary, gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted a grant application: “Today is the most exciting time of the year for the auxiliary, as we accomplish our purpose and give 100 percent of the money we raised throughout the year to you to make a difference. It is touching to see your ideas for how we can help your patients, their families and your team members to make their lives a little bit easier.” Before announcing the 2018 winners, past president and current grant program manager Jo Ann Burton shared with the audience that she felt “like Santa Claus.”  

First-time grant recipient Allison Held is using her law background to grow a medical-legal partnership at VCU Health. Lawyers work with patient care teams to help with social and legal problems that contribute to bad health outcomes, such as residential mold. The grant will allow her to produce marketing materials and invest in a legal case management tool.

The Family Advisory Network at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, also a first-time winner, received two grants for parent-led support programs. One is the “FAN Binders Project,” a workshop in which parents of children with complex medical needs learn from peers how to organize and prioritize medical paperwork into a useful resource guide. The other is setting up a support group and community events for parents of children with special healthcare needs.

An initiative called “Undergarments for Underserved Women,” proposed by the Women’s Health department, also received funding for the first time. Women with limited financial needs will have access to new undergarments to foster their feelings of self-worth and dignity.

Supported by an MCV Hospitals Auxiliary grant, the Go Baby Go initiative provides modified ride-on cars to children with limited mobility.
Supported by an MCV Hospitals Auxiliary grant, the Go Baby Go initiative provides modified ride-on cars to children with limited mobility.

First-time recipients and repeat winners alike listened intently as some departments shared how last year’s grants allowed them to make a difference. Patricia Moon, director of Family Care Services at VCU Health, manages an employee support group called Rainbow Society. “Last year alone, we were able to help over 140 employees in financial distress,” Moon said. Thanks to auxiliary funding for the Go Baby Go mobility project, 25 children with limited mobility received modified battery-operated ride-on cars last year, giving them new independence. Also, more than 62,000 patients, family members and staff benefited from interacting with four-legged members of the Dogs on Call Therapy Dog Program, a longtime beneficiary of MCV Hospitals Auxiliary support.

Little even had a small surprise for auxiliary volunteers, handing out wildflower seeds to a group of volunteers in attendance: “You help us bring so much sunshine into these four walls,” Little said. “Plant these and spread some sunshine in our communities.”