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Women Investing in Strategies for Health

Medical Center of the Rockies

Marla Trumper, Erica Siemers, Kellie Sponberg, Pat Kendall, Kathleen Henry, Valerie Beyrouty

WISH, Women Investing in Strategies for Health, is proud to announce more than $36,000 in awards to support health needs of women, children and families in Larimer County through University of Colorado Health (UCHealth) programs.  Eight projects were selected at the organization's annual meeting to receive awards ranging from $3,000 to $5,167.  WISH is a giving circle formed in 2013 by a group of local women interested in health-related philanthropy. Through their pooled funds, WISH members have provided over $70,000 in “mini-grants” to support health and health care needs since WISH’s inception.

Over the past year, WISH members have been encouraged by the impact their dollars have had on the funded programs. “We have been able to see first hand how collaborative efforts can make a difference in our community. The feedback received from the initiatives we funded last year has truly been inspiring,” explained Debbie McCubbin, WISH steering committee chair.

For instance, Ruth Rice, who leads the UCHealth neurologic music therapy program that received an award from WISH last year, says, “We continually hear positive remarks from our participants on how much this group helps them.  Many of our clients fall and fear falling and they are so appreciative that we work on balance and strength so they can continue to be active and independent at home and in the community.  We are grateful to WISH for providing vital support during this program’s pilot phase. ”

WISH provides members the opportunity to pool their funds, learn about health needs in Larimer County, and collectively decide how their money will be utilized in support of local programs, projects and services provided by UCHealth, including services provided in partnership with community organizations.  Participants of WISH are actively involved in how their dollars will be spent through an annual review and voting process.

Applicants are selected based on the following weighted selection criteria developed by WISH:

  • Focuses on enhancement of health/health care within Larimer County community
  • Demonstrates the breadth of benefit to a broad cross-section of the community
  • Supports the health and health care needs of women, children and families
  • Promotes collaboration among departments, physicians, and/or related community organizations

Following are summaries of the 2015 WISH Awardees: 

Car Seat Education and Distribution Program

Safe Kids Larimer County, based within the Community Health Improvement Department at UCHealth in northern Colorado, requested funds to purchase 150 car seats for infants and children in low-income families in Larimer County.  The program reaches about 500 families in financial need with education about vehicle and car seat safety.

Enhance Wellness

Living Well and Enhance Wellness classes are offered to adults over the age of 50 who are referred by either their physician or other providers within the community based upon their chronic disease or socioeconomic status.  By participating in Living Well and Enhance Wellness, these individuals learn how to achieve and maintain a more stable health status.  The evidence-based programs have been proven to increase psycho-social well-being and decrease participants' need for and use of health care services (e.g., decreased hospitalization, decreased emergency room visits).  WISH funds will be used for educational materials, outreach and incentives that are used as part of the program.

Fit Families on the Move

Over the last four years, Fit Families on the Move has worked to make exercise a part of family life.  The project partners with schools, neighborhoods (many of which are low income), local parks and recreation departments and recreational businesses to publicize and take advantage of summer activities like swimming and hiking.  WISH funding will enable the program to increase access to municipal pools, activity centers and other venues to more participants (last year the program provided assistance to 748 low-income participants), thereby promoting healthier families throughout the region.

Health and Wellness Partnership

UCHealth, Columbine Health Systems and the City of Fort Collins are partners in providing health and wellness programming at the Fort Collins Senior Center.  The WISH grant will help purchase a professional Tanita Body Composition Analyzer and accessories.  This tool will enable individuals to better track their personal health and wellness improvements, as well as provide the Senior Center’s health and wellness partners with the data needed to support their programming in the community. 

Healthy Hearts Program

This initiative offers cholesterol testing for students in 4th or 5th grade and again in 10th grade in schools throughout Larimer County.  Results have demonstrated positive impacts in lowering cholesterol and healthy lifestyle changes such as increasing healthy food consumption, increased exercise habits, reading food labels and reducing fast food consumption, not only in the students but also the whole family.  WISH funding will enable Healthy Hearts to purchase four more Cholestech LDX analyzers – which measure the cholesterol levels – which are needed due to the success and expansion of the program.

“Having the entire family participate is a big reason for our family's success,” said one dad who participated in Healthy Hearts. “The program has opened my eyes and made ALL of my family more aware of what we need to do to live healthier, happier lifestyles.  It was the best use of our time over the past six weeks.”

Next Step Cancer Planner

As a resource to cancer patients to organize information and resources upon diagnosis of cancer, this pilot program will provide assembly and distribution of an organizational binder for patients diagnosed with cancer in the GI and special procedures lab.  The binder will allow the patient to track everything from diagnosis and pathology to side effects, questions, notes and a calendar of appointments. 

Standardized Prenatal Education Rotating Curriculum

A pilot project, the Standardized Prenatal Education Rotating Curriculum program will provide important, much-needed prenatal and postpartum education for at-risk, low-income families in Larimer County.  It will be administered at the Poudre Valley Prenatal (PVP) program located at the Family Medicine Center, where they see approximately 450 births through the PVP program each year.  These targeted individuals have no other access to this type of training and support and have risk factors including substance abuse, homelessness, domestic violence, and malnutrition.  WISH funding will provide instructor stipends and bilingual educational materials.

STAR Program

Promoting self-efficacy and health in a patient recovering from cancer, the STAR (Survivorship Training and Rehab) is a national program originated from a Harvard doctor who was diagnosed with cancer and inspired to gain better outcomes for cancer patients.  WISH funds will be used to purchase pedometers and survivor guidebooks that will supplement STAR activities. 

“We were happy to see a wide variety of programs – some new, some familiar – apply for WISH support,” said Erica Siemers, WISH steering committee member and senior director of the PVH and MCR Foundation with which WISH is affiliated.  “As WISH is a relatively young organization, our goal is to get the word out so that we can inspire our colleagues in the health and health care community to develop projects for funding, but also attract community members who might be interested in making personal contributions toward our efforts.”

Only in its second year, WISH has 82 members.  The initiative is led by the WISH Steering Committee: Valerie Beyrouty, Nina Bodenhamer, Janene Dellenbach, Nancy Hartley, Kim Hayes, Pat Kendall, Mary McCambridge, Debbie McCubbin, Lori McWhinney, Yvonne Myers, Nancy Patton, Amy Rosenberg, Jan Sawyer, Erica Siemers, Maria Trumper and Stacy Unger.

McCubbin notes, “WISH membership is open to anyone interested in supporting the health and health care services of the community.  The membership is diverse, including professionals, homemakers and retirees – ranging from 19 years old to 80 years and older.  The annual membership dues are $500 and the group offers payment options for those who are interested.  One hundred percent of annual membership gifts are awarded to applicants, thanks to the support of the PVH and MCR Foundation.  Individual time commitment varies according to each individual’s interest level.”

The next WISH membership event will be in June 2015, although one can join at anytime throughout the year (pvhandcr.thankyou4caring.org/WISH).  Those interested in learning more about WISH membership or the WISH grant application process are encouraged to contact JoAnn Herkenhoff at joann.herkenhoff@uchealth.org or 970.237.7403.

About PVH and MCR Foundation:

The mission of the Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies Foundation is to support its affiliated hospitals and clinics in the delivery and advancement of world-class health care in northern Colorado.  The foundation realizes its mission through the development and stewardship of philanthropic resources in support of the hospitals' mission and strategic goals.