Message from the Development Director

The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.

Development Department

Above left – Robin Palmer, Tammy Hooker and Ashley Lincoln – the team lucky enough to be charged with coordinating the Last Mile Ride each August, post for a photo. Above right – Jack Cowdrey, Chair of the Development Committee and one of the chase-truck drivers for the Last Mile Ride.

In this year’s Annual Report, we are fortunate to read stories from our long-time providers. Gifford is also fortunate to have many long-term supporters. Many of their names follow, but it is hard not to pull out one group for its remarkably long-standing relationship. That group is the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

In 2012, the now 106-year-old Auxiliary continued its support of Gifford programs and services, including “wish list” items awarded to individual hospital departments looking to improve care through new technology or training materials.

As these “wish list” gifts are distributed, there are often tears of thanks and happiness from the receiving department staff members. This speaks volumes to how much these gifts – and the Gifford Auxiliary – mean to the medical center and its patients.

Other major supporters in 2012 included those who gave to the Last Mile Ride. Now in its seventh year, this charity motorcycle ride raised a record $54,000 for end-of-life care and services. This year’s event brought a new run/walk and thus many new participants. Top among them was Todd Winslow and Lu Beaudry who raised more than $5,000 in memory of Todd’s mother, Joyce (read more about the Winslow family in our Donor Profile). The event was our largest individual fund-raiser to date.

The motorcycle ride is just one way to support Gifford. Many offer their community medical center financial support each year through an annual gift to the hospital or a special purpose fund. Others include Gifford in their will or trust, while still others choose a charitable gift annuity where they receive a predictable return on their investment.

Increasingly, community members are also expressing tremendous interest in our planned senior living community. That interest and enthusiasm has come in the form of financial support as well as interested residents. This project shows so much promise, and it is our utmost honor to be working to provide a solution to a serious problem in our region – a lack of local housing alternatives for those wanting to age in place, in their communities, rather than having to travel great distances.

As always, the Development Department is available by calling 728-2380 to discuss the many ways to support Gifford. Your investment truly makes a difference and the impact is far-reaching. Please don’t hesitate to ask us your questions or visit our website, www.giffordmed.org, to discover ways you can leave your legacy. New this year, we have included an option for online giving opportunities.

On behalf of Gifford, thank you. We appreciate your friendship.

~ Ashley Lincoln
Director of Development

Knit In

Gifford Medical CenterEach year members of the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary knit hats and mittens for local school children in need. This year Auxiliary members decided to have some extra fun with their knitting by gathering with Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home residents for a weekly “Knit In.”

On Thursday the group met at Menig in Randolph for a second time, and while fingers worked so did minds and mouths. There was reminiscing, sharing of techniques, talk of family and friends, and plenty of discussion on where to get great deals on yarn. The group plans to gather as long as it’s fun.

The Auxiliary hopes to have plenty of mittens and hats ready for children from two area schools come January. Last year the handmade goods went to schools in Bethel and Rochester for school nurses to pass out as needed. The year before it was South Royalton and Brookfield.Gifford Medical Center

Menig residents are making washcloths to include in Operation Christmas Child boxes to go to children in Third World countries. Together these two groups of givers are also making memories.

Gifford Medical Center

Barb Reynolds (Menig resident) and Terry MacDougal (Menig activities director)

Gifford Medical Center

Bea Arnold (Menig resident) and Louise Clark (Auxiliary president)

Gifford Medical Center

Ginny Cantlin (Auxiliary member) and Ruth Lutz (Auxiliary treasurer)

Donor Profile: The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary

The following is an excerpt from the 2011 Annual Report.

Facilitating a circle of giving

Gifford Auxiliary

Linnie Laws, Kathy Corrao, and Ginny Cantlin knit and crochet hats and mittens for area school children in need. In 2011, 150 pieces were made by
Auxiliary members and their friends.

The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is an organization both supported and motivated by donations. Among the medical center’s largest monetary contributors, the now 105-year-old Auxiliary is able to give so much because of the generosity it receives from the
community and its 135 members.

Auxiliary members knit hats and mittens for school children in need and contribute to the Randolph Area Food Shelf and Salvation Army. They help area youth and other area residents pursue health care careers or advance their careers through scholarships. They also volunteer at the Thrift Shop.

A staple in the community for 55 years, the Thrift Shop on the surface is a place to buy bargain-priced wears. Seemingly immune to any stereotypes the Thrift Shop is a source of pride for its shoppers, a daily gathering place for some and a resource to many truly in need.

“Terrible times have fallen upon us, and I just don’t know what to do,” Thrift Shop Manager Dianne Elias often hears. “When people are in true need, they know they can come to us.”

The Thrift Shop is also the main source of revenue for the Auxiliary’s generosity, and it is the community’s place to recycle good quality, unwanted clothes, and small household items, like kitchen ware and linens. The community’s generosity in giving to the Thrift Shop is evident in the piles of boxes and bags that fill the business’ receiving dock each day, but a single event in 2011 highlighted that generosity like no other, and that was
Tropical Storm Irene.

Many families lost everything, and Vermonters sprang into action.

“Every single person wanted to help,” recalls Dianne, “but didn’t know how to help, so they cleaned out their closets.”

The Thrift Shop was inundated.

“The generosity of the Vermont people was literally overwhelming,” says Auxiliary President David Peirce.

Gifford Auxiliary sale

Community members crowd into a tent filled with giveaways following
Tropical Storm Irene.

The dock overflowed. Donations filled all available storage space at the store and neighboring hospital. David counted the cars pulling up – 12 an hour, or one every five minutes. It went on for weeks. Eventually on a chilly October weekend two months after the flood, the Auxiliary held a giveaway and in the continued spirit of community, everyone pitched in.

The Thrift Shop’s 40 volunteers sorted the donations into men’s, women’s, pants, shirts, etc. Randolph Union High School Encore Theater Co. students worked with advisor Brian Rainville to carry the clothes from storage to tables set up under a tent. Their volunteer work was in thanks for the many costumes the Thrift Shop provides to the school.

Students from Tom Harty’s public safety and criminal justice class at Randolph Technical Career Center guarded the clothing overnight in below-freezing temperatures for the sale the next morning. In typical grateful fashion, the Auxiliary thanked them with a donation to their program.

Gifford Auxiliary sale

The same tent by 4 p.m. that afternoon.

The sale was scheduled to last two days: Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30, but by 4 p.m. Saturday nearly everything was gone.

Of course, the donations kept coming in and plenty of goods along with vouchers for free items were offered to families rebuilding after Irene. Fire victims and others in need also often receive free goods.

For paying customers, their spending at the Thrift Shop ultimately goes to the medical center and its patients. In 2011, the Auxiliary supported Gifford’s Affordable Care Program, providing free and affordable care to patients in need. It fulfilled departments’ “Wish List” requests, bringing added equipment to patients utilizing the lab, Pediatrics, the Emergency Department, Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation programs, the Bethel and White River Junction health centers and more.

Volunteers gave more than 4,500 hours in 2011 at the Thrift Shop to make that giving possible. Auxiliary board members also give significant time to the non-profit volunteer-run organization.

The reasons why they do this are diverse, but all come down to one main motivation: supporting their community and their community hospital.

Connie Niland: A lady and an optimist

Niland family carrying on ‘attitude of gratitude’ by joining Last Mile Ride

Connie Niland

Connie smiles on her 94th birthday on Dec. 24, 2011.

RANDOLPH – Connie Niland was a fearless optimist.

So even when her husband died of a massive heart attack on the day of his retirement, she carried forth with his plan to move from their home in Peabody, Mass., to Vermont.
Connie and her youngest daughter Lisa (now Lisa Hill of Bethel) moved to Barnard in 1972 when Lisa was 13 and Connie was 55.

In Massachusetts, Connie had offered guided tours of the North Shore for women, but mostly stayed home with her four children and played golf. In Vermont, Connie went to work as an administrative assistant first at Dartmouth College and then Vermont Law School. She also shoveled the roof, maintained the home and took care of Lisa and the family’s horses. The older children were already out of the house.

Connie Niland

Connie, born Constance Allington, age 7 months, sits in a high chair on her family’s back lawn in Everett, Mass., on July 12, 1918.

Connie worked until age 84 and then filled in on vacations. Lisa recalls her mom’s intellectually curiosity. “She just had this wonderful curiosity about people and ideas.” Connie loved the law school students and computer technology. She learned to Skype and text her older children. “She was as fearless as that as she was with other things.”
And she was fearless about death.

Lisa calls her mom a “buddhiscopalian.” She read incessantly about spirituality and a relationship with God.

In 2002, she moved from Barnard to an apartment in Randolph on Randolph Avenue, when the home became too much to take care of alone. “She really considered that she had moved from the country to the city,” Lisa says.

And Connie embraced her new community. She became active with the Randolph Senior Citizen Center, the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary and began volunteering at Gifford. “My mother was just so grateful for Gifford and loved that it was such an important part of the community where she had chosen to live,” Lisa says of her local hospital.

Connie Niland

This undated photo shows a younger Connie Niland.

Connie also continued to play golf into late 80s and was such an optimist that age 90 she took out a four-year lease on a car.

Eventually rheumatoid arthritis and limited mobility would cause her to stop driving, but still Connie lived well and with her constant “attitude of gratitude.”

She turned 94 on Christmas Eve last year. After a day of visiting with family and drinking a bit of champagne – one of Connie’s favorite – Lisa called to check in. “I’m just sitting here thinking about how lucky I am and how happy I am,” Connie told her youngest.

A few days after New Year’s she had a stroke.

Connie Niland

Connie married husband William Niland in Boston in 1941. He died in 1972.

On a whim, Lisa visited on New Year’s Eve day, a Saturday, with Connie’s monthly scratch tickets and her winnings from the previous month. “When I got there, she was out of it,” says Lisa, who brought her mother to the Emergency Department. She had a urinary tract infection but a CT scan revealed nothing else unusual.

Lisa stayed with Connie in Randolph over the weekend. They cooked, laughed and giggled, and had a great time. On Monday, the day after New Year’s, they enjoyed a nice lunch. After lunch, Lisa was rubbing lotion on her mom’s face and asking her a question, when Connie failed to respond. When she finally looked up, her face pointed to one side. “I literally had her face in my hands,” says Lisa, and “It was clear that she had had a stroke.” Lisa activated Connie’s Lifeline and awaited an ambulance to bring her to Gifford.

Connie Niland

Connie poses with Karen Lyford of Chelsea at the Vermont Law School, where Connie worked until age 84.

She didn’t get better.

“She clearly wasn’t progressing. It was just clear that she had a really devastating event,” says Lisa, who was faced with the decision of moving her mother to a nursing home.

That Friday, Lisa came to the hospital ready to do just that, but Connie, who “couldn’t stand” nursing homes, had made a different decision. She had stopped eating, was growing sicker and was moved to the Garden Room for end-of-life patients at Gifford.

She was there exactly one week until her death on Jan. 13 of this year. The whole family came, all four children, including two or three who stayed over every night, and almost every grandchild. The room, which includes a patient room and family room, was filled with 12 or more people at a time.

Connie Niland

Connie Niland, 1917 – 2012

“My mother was very gracious and she loved to entertain. She had a steady stream of people (visiting her in the Garden Room), and we were loud. We sat with her and we talked about great times in our family’s life and we told the funny stories that we always told when we’re together,” Lisa recalls.

The family faced no difficult choices. Connie had made her wishes clear in “the most beautifully written Advance Directive.”

They brought her quilt from home and other comfort items were provided in a kit from the hospital. The hospital fed the family during their weeklong stay. Connie had Reiki for pain management as well as music therapy from Brookfield’s Islene Runningdeer and local hospice singing group “River Bend.”

Most importantly, says Lisa, the hospital staff preserved Connie’s dignity – an important measure for the family and for Connie who was foremost always a “lady.”

“That experience of being in the Garden Room and the support that we had was such a beautiful experience. It just was incredible to us how thoughtful everyone was,” says Lisa.

The special services Connie and her family received – the family meals, Comfort Kit and music therapy – were provided thanks to funds raised at Gifford’s annual Last Mile Ride – a charity motorcycle ride this year to be held on Aug. 18.

And this year, Lisa, her brother Richard and two friends will be participating in the Last Mile Ride for the first time.

“For us, it’s knowing what we received in the Garden Room, we want to make sure we give back a little of that so another family can have an island of calm in the middle of such chaos,” Lisa says. “Until you are there you have no idea how much you need and our family was just so overwhelmed with how much (hospital staff) did for us.”

The Last Mile Ride is supports end-of-life and advanced illness care at Gifford Medical Center, including free services for patients and their families. This year’s ride is Aug. 18. The event also includes a cyclist ride and 5K. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org or call (802) 728-2380. Participants can register up to and on the day of the event.