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Crystal Hinson Miller, president of the IU Health Foundation, is a national leader in healthcare philanthropy. Here, she shares her personal reflections.
As I review gifts IU Health Foundation receives, I invariably find myself moved by the generosity of the people, organizations and businesses who give those gifts. From major grants that transform the way IU Health delivers care to smaller contributions that create a collective impact — I see the resounding theme of generosity in all of them.
This year, I was also struck by a second theme, one that I realized has always been there but that seems to have increased its place as a motivator among donors: compassion.
Compassion is an appropriate theme for IU Health Foundation donors because it is also one of IU Health’s stated values. Defined in those values as a commitment to “treat all people with respect, kindness and empathy,” compassion reveals an awareness of and sensitivity to another person’s reality. Put into action, compassion seeks to ease another’s pain, support another’s journey, and honor another’s dreams, all without any direct or personal reward.
And that is what I saw over and over in gifts received in 2021.
For example, consider the donations we received for the Mosaic Center for Work, Life and Learning, including an $8 million grant from Lilly Endowment and a generous gift from Mike and Sue Smith. This support will help the new center offer a “mosaic” of individualized and intensive services to help Hoosiers chart pathways to meaningful careers at IU Health, other healthcare settings, or beyond the healthcare field. The Smiths' gift will also allow The Mosaic Center to support under - and unemployed individuals, entry-level IU Health employees, independent former foster care youth ages 18-26, and Crispus Attucks High School students in the IU Health Fellowship program, which uses a curriculum co-developed by IPS and IU Health and guarantees fellows job offers from IU Health upon graduation.
I also think of the example set by Bill and Sue Ringo, who made a gift to create a remote patient monitoring program. The Ringos were inspired by the ways that telemedicine improves access to healthcare, one of the most pressing issues in our communities across the state. Through remote patient monitoring, more patients will have the chance to heal at home, surrounded by loved ones.
In Fort Wayne, a pair of anonymous donors have given a large gift to the Path4You program, which breaks down the barriers that keep many from seeking needed contraceptives, including lack of education and awareness, transportation difficulties, prohibitive costs and fear of repercussions. Along with education, the program supplies easily accessible and free birth control supplies, ranging from oral contraceptives to intrauterine devices and implants. Why did these donors give? Because they are troubled that far too many Indiana families suffer each year as a result of the state’s out-of-control infant mortality rate.
Look at Gary and Shelly Henriott’s gift to IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette. They’re providing scholarships for entry-level hospital workers — such as those who work in the cafeteria and keep our hospitals clean — who want to enter a program that will train them for healthcare careers.
And think about what Al and Michelle Christy did in 2021, both personally and through Equity First Holdings. Not only did they give $65,000 to support Rev Indy, which raises funds for statewide critical and trauma care, but they also donated their sponsorship tickets to frontline IU Health employees, and hosted them for a shopping spree to help them get ready for the event.
One after another, these people and organizations embody compassion. Their examples are complemented by countless others: from Anthem’s support of Lyft rides for people who need transportation for COVID-19 vaccinations to the wide array of folks who contributed to the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, and from the Hoosiers who supported family and friends participating in fundraising events to the people who participated in those events. Over and over, the driving force was compassion.
So, yes, as I look back on 2021, I appreciate your generosity, but I also stand in awe of your compassion. In giving out of respect for the realities of others, out of empathy and out of kindness, you not only support the essential work of IU Health, but you impart hope to those who benefit from your gift and, by extension, to those of us who see your gifts at work every day.
That’s compassion, and for that, I thank you.