The food was good, but nothing extravagant — pork tenderloin, dips and crackers, sliced pineapple and melon — and the room was tastefully appointed, with white tablecloths and a simple flower arrangement. The Hopkins County Health Care Foundation could have gone overboard Tuesday night when its members hosted a reception for sponsors of the Lights of Life campaign and gala, and they would have been justified. The donors they invited were hardly skinflints, but people who regularly give tens of thousands of dollars to help the foundation, not to mention countless other charities in Hopkins County.
Yet it all seemed so appropriate, because the people being honored made it clear they cared far more for the good of the community they helped than the adulation for their charity.
Mickey McKenzie — who served both as an emcee and an honoree — pointed out at the beginning of the reception in the Memorial Medical Plaza that the health care foundation’s sole mission is to help provide quality health care for Hopkins County through the Lights of Life campaign.
“That’s a short statement,” acknowledged McKenzie, who along with his wife, Barbara, has contributed $10,000 each year to the 3-year-old Lights of Life Gala. “But that’s exactly what we try to do, to help the hospital become a better place, whether you’re a patient or a visitor or whatever the case might be.”
The foundation has done its job. Over the years, the organization has helped improve the hospital by remodeling nurse stations, built the Gardens at Memorial for all to enjoy, and given thousands upon thousands of dollars to help support patient services at Hopkins County Hospice, Wound Care at Memorial and other programs. Along the way, the health care group has also helped children through the Think Child Safety program, assisted with Team Diabetes and supported the Hopkins County Memorial Hospital’s pediatric department, McKenzie said.
The 2008-2009 Lights of Life was the 13th year for the campaign and third year for the gala, and the most successful one financially, said Dr. Bill Dietze, co-chair of the gala with his wife, Peggy.
“We’ve finally got the monetary figures, and we’re very proud of them,” Dietze told the crowd of about 35 people who gathered for the intimate reception. “Our goal was to surpass last year, and we were able to do that.”
Overall, the campaign grossed more than $120,000 in revenue. That left more than $80,000 after all expenses were covered.
The health care foundation already has plans for some of that money. About $10,000, for example, is covering finishing out the children’s waiting areas in the new emergency department and third floor at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.
The success of the campaign also allowed for a special project — a $21,000 pediatric rehabilitation garden, which is an outdoor rehabilitation facility disguised as a children’s playground.
“This left over $50,000 that we could put into the foundation’s coffers,” said Dr. Dietze. “It was more than we expected and much better than we expected.”
Dr. Dietze and Peggy Dietze then handed out plaques of appreciation to some of their biggest supporters.
The HCMH Volunteer Auxiliary was first to be honored. Jane Sutton, president of the auxiliary, accepted the plaque for the group’s “Star Sponsor” donation, which translates to a $10,000 donation to Lights of Life.
But the auxiliary has donated much more over the years.
“They have given more than $70,000 since Lights of Life’s inception,” Peggy Dietze told the crowd.
Mickey and Barbara McKenzie, representing GSC Enterprises Inc., were next to be recognized as Star Sponsors. They have given $10,000 to the Lights of Life Gala all three years.
Dr. Dietze accepted a third plaque on behalf of the physicians of HCMH, who pooled together $16,000 for the 2008-2009 Lights of Life.
Other sponsors were recognized for going “above and beyond” in supporting the fund-raising operation.
For the third year in a row, Alliance Bank was a Sparkle Sponsor, donating $5,000 each year to the gala.
Echo Publishing Co. was recognized for underwriting the printing of invitations and programs, worth more than $2,500 each year.
The many volunteers who spend countless hours planning the gala and campaign were also recognized by Dr. Dietze.
“Peggy and I just want to say to the [Lights of Life] committee, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,’” he said. “What a blessing it is to get to know you.”
Dr. Dietze also noted that Craig Roberts, who served this past year as chairman of the Lights of Life committee, will head up the 2010 gala, co-chairing the effort with his wife, Jennifer.
“My advice to Craig is to do anything you have to do to keep the committee happy,” Dr. Dietze said. “You’ve made our job a real pleasure.”
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