The word "philanthropy" is a combination of two ancient Greek words: philos (love) and anthropos (humankind). This translates to mean "the love of humankind". In today's world, philanthropy has come to mean giving of oneself to benevolent causes, but such acts of kindness is certainly due to an innate love for and desire to help other human beings. People show love for others in many different ways, and they exhibit philanthropy in many different ways.
At OSF we are humbled daily by the inspirational stories of people who follow a passion to help others and positively impact the world around them. These philanthropists are everyday people who find joy in going above and beyond to help us serve our patients with unsurpassed quality health care. We're honored to share with you stories of some of the donors who have touched our hearts. Each one is a blessing for which we are unspeakable grateful.
Over a decade ago, Howard's wife of 51 years, Dona, became ill and was treated at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington. Howard and Dona came to the hospital many times throughout Dona's illness. Sadly, Dona passed away in 2002. "The staff was great. They did everything they could to make us comfortable." Howard had said. Medical Imaging staff member Lisa Stevens took care of Dona at the time and was very fond of Howard. Howard also had to receive care at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in 2003. "I didn't enjoy having to be at the hospital, but if I had to be somewhere, I'm glad it was OSF St. Joseph."
Because of the compassionate care Howard and Dona received, Howard became a consistent donor to the OSF St. Joseph Foundation, providing planned gifts in the form of Charitable Gift Annuities. For several years Howard continued to support the hospital, attending golf outings and fundraising events, and at times included his close companion, Gini Reeves.
In the spring of 2013, Howard and the Foundation discussed OSF St. Joseph Medical Center's newest and most complex and challenging project to date - the design and development of a Hybrid Operating Room. Often called the "operating room of the future" this cutting-edge surgery room would combine stringent sterilization requirements of a typical surgery room with the high-tech imaging equipment of a catherization lab. This innovative project excited Howard and he immediately became interested in its progress and wanted to learn more. For the next few months, clinical staff gave Howard personal tours of the area to be reconstructed, showed him detailed blueprints, and even got him his own personalized hard hat!
In February of 2014, our Foundation worked with Howard to create The Dona and Howard Little Innovation Endowment to support the Hybrid Operating Room or similar innovation projects at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. This was the first designated endowment for the OSF St. Joseph Foundation and gave Howard a lot of pride. As Greg Gook, OSF St. Joseph's Foundation President, said when he received the check from Howard, "I have never seen anyone so happy to give a donation!" Plans are to name a family and physician consultation room after Dona and Howard, once the construction is complete.
This past April, Howard's close friend Gini unexpectedly passed away at the hospital. Howard, with few family members close by, was grief-stricken. Foundation and clinical staff knew immediately he needed his "OSF Family" and took him out to dinner and even to play pool that evening at his favorite billiards location.
In memory of Gini, Howard recently gave a $10,000 gift to his endowment fund. Howard was excited to think he could add to this endowment and continue to support the hospital in this way.
On June 18, Foundation, clinical and pastoral care staff worked together with Gini's local family, including daughter and grandchildren, to organize a memorial service in the hospital's chapel for Gini. Howard invited his and Gini's friends from the senior care facility they lived in to attend. The service included music, readings, photos, stories and laughter - a true celebration of life.
Howard was recently given an up to date and behind the scenes tour of the construction for the Hybrid OR by the medical center's lead project engineer, who answered all of Howard's questions about the project.
Howard is not just a donor, but someone who is keenly interested in innovation and improving care. His interest is fostered by staff who want him to be involved and connected to the project. Howard's passion for better technology and patient care, clinical staff who openly share their time and work with him, and the expertise of the Foundation staff are all needed to develop planned gifts that are meaningful to both the donor and the hospital, and ultimately to make a difference now and in the future.
Employees In Partnership
Employees of OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group work daily to serve patients and their families. Many also contribute each year to the hospital's "Employees In Partnership: We Make a Difference" campaign. More than 550 employees participate each year in an important collective donation that provides needed improvements, new technology and new services for patients and visitors.
Among those generous contributors over the years have been Dave and Ruth Houseman. Before they retired in 2010 after a combined total of more than 70 years of service in the Sisters' Mission, Dave and Ruth made a retirement donation of $2,500. They had been long-time supporters of the annual Employee Campaign and wanted to make a substantial gift upon their retirement.
A nurse in the OB/Nursery Department, Ruth began her career with OSF St. Francis in 1969. A biomedical technician with the Engineering Department, Dave had been with the Hospital 32 years. Dave loved his work at the hospital and says his donation is really a form of gratitude.
"The Sisters had given us so much and I thought it was fitting that we give back to them for all of the good things that they’ve given to us and to the Hospital. I was very proud to work for them and still am," he said.
Ruth, too, appreciated her work experience, but also is grateful for the hospital's service to the community as a major employer and quality health care institution.
"I always had a job and they were very good to me. We've also been here as patients. Our kids were born at the old hospital. We've had surgeries, labs and x-rays and we've been in the Emergency Department. We’re happy that we have a nice hospital here," said Ruth.
After years of generous annual giving, the couple decided the best exit strategy was a farewell gift. Why $2,500 exactly?
Dave laughs. "I wanted a rock!"
Gifts of $5,000 or more to the OSF St. Francis Foundation are recognized with a rock on the Tree of Life, which is displayed in the front lobby of the Hospital. The retirement gift, combined with their past contributions, make them rock-solid donors.
Remembering the Past, Investing in the Future: Family's Gift Creates Lasting Legacy
Admiring a photo of their new grandson, Marty and Terry Best can't help but smile from ear to ear. Donald "Bucky" Genzel was born in the fall of 2013. A new addition, the family calls a true holiday gift.
"The name Bucky pays tribute to my father, Dr. George Best," Marty explained. "They share the same nickname." "He dedicated his life to helping others live well," added wife Terry. "His friends called him Bucky, and it just stuck."
Dr. George "Bucky" Best spent years working in internal medicine at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. "He was there all the time," said Marty. "He never said no to anybody. He truly wanted to help." Over the years Dr. Best cared for countless patients, serving each with "the greatest care and love."
Family First: Despite a hectic schedule, the doctor still made time for loved ones, sometimes in creative ways. "He'd take my brother and me on house calls all over the city," Marty smiled. "He even brought us into the hospital and had us practice reading EKG's."
That passion for health care inspired other Best family members to pursue medical careers. "My brother, David, is now a cardiologist at OSF, and my daughter, Katie, specializes in sleep disorders," said Marty. "She's a polysomnographic technician."
That passion also inspired Marty and Terry to join the OSF family. Each serves respectively on the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Foundation Council and the Children's Hospital of Illinois Community Advisory Board. "I'm proud our family is part of OSF," said Terry. "Day in and day out you've got great employees doing great things."
Leaving a Legacy: After a long life filled with family, faith, and philanthropy, Dr. Best passed away in 2009. To honor his memory, Marty and Terry made a generous gift, using life insurance, to the Milestone campaign for Children's Hospital of Illinois. Those visiting the fifth floor will notice a meditation room dedicated to Dr. Best.
After everything he did, we had to have dad live on in that building," said Marty. "The space dedicated to him is on the only adult floor in Children's which became part of adult cardiology."
Serving with the Greatest Care and Love: The choice to give back came naturally to Marty and Terry who wholeheartedly believe in the OSF Mission. "It's very easy to give because I don't think there's a place that does it better," said Terry. "To serve each patient with 'the greatest care and love'… Dr. Best truly did."
"If you see what they do and how they do it, you will give," added Marty. "As OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Illinois gets bigger and stronger we need a way to ensure this Mission stays funded." Terry and Marty found using the gift of life insurance to be a simple and effective way to fulfill their philanthropic goals.
Marty and Terry are proud to stand by their philanthropic decision and they encourage others to do the same. They give to improve the future of medicine, to help others live happy, healthy lives, and to honor a man who always wanted what’s best for others.
"It's important our grandson Bucky understands who his great grandfather was," said Terry. "Making a gift to OSF and naming a room in his honor was a way for us to do that."
A Ride To Remember
The rumble of the engine. The rush of the wind. The relief of hitting the open road. Just three reasons why Rhonda Strappe loves her motorcycle.
"My husband Tom got me into it. He'd been riding all of his life," she smiles. Each weekend, the Elmwood couple hit the road and even joined motorcycle groups. But their passion for the pastime revved up when they learned about the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home.
"Tom went to a meeting at OSF where they were talking about hospice," Rhonda explained. "In the past, we'd organized motorcycle rides to raise funds for children with cancer, but adults with an illness need help too." So, in 2009, the couple organized their first hospice home fundraiser ride.
"Our first ride was about 150 miles," said Rhonda. "We traveled four counties—starting in Galesburg." The event drove in $6,000 for the OSF Hospice Home and the couple made the ride an annual event.
Their commitment to the hospice home had such a big impact, staff members named the facility's patient therapy room in the Strappe family’s honor.
"The hospice home is a place of peace," said Rhonda. "They take care of families there. They welcome everyone no matter the circumstances. What a wonderful place to share our support."
Rhonda is now organizing her sixth annual OSF Hospice Ride. But, for the first time… she's planning it without the help of her husband Tom. "This ride is in his memory," she says warmly. "He passed away last year."
Just six months after the hospice home opened, Tom collided with two deer while riding his motorcycle. He'd been on his way home when the accident occurred. "He couldn't get stopped, it happened so fast," said Rhonda softly. "Emergency crews rushed him to the hospital. He hadn't been wearing a helmet." Tom spent five weeks in the hospital, but his condition slowly deteriorated.
"In addition to his injuries, pneumonia and meningitis set in. That's what really took him down," Rhonda explained. "The medical team spoke with me about alternative care, and they recommended the hospice home." When Tom arrived, Rhonda says the staff immediately made him comfortable. "They gave him the proper doses of medication, you could see it on his face, he was at peace."
Tom passed away the next day. "It was on a Sunday. He had a room that looked out onto the garden…I was with him," said Rhonda.
"When we started our benefit rides five years ago, it never occurred to me we'd be using the hospice home. I'd always figured we were fundraising for someone else, for other families," she explained. But Rhonda plans to keep moving forward. "This year's OSF Hospice Ride is in Tom's memory. It's being continued. We're doing this. It's what Tom would have wanted."
"Why stop?" says Rhonda. "The hospice home is a wonderful place. It meant the world to my family, and others just like us. It's a place of hope and healing, and I want to make sure it lasts."
William and Mary DiSomma
Residents of the Chicago-land area might not expect to find world-class health care and state of the art technology in a mid-sized, central Illinois city, but that's exactly what Bill and Mary DiSomma discovered when they experienced one of the most distressing moments a parent can endure. Their daughter, Rebecca, was in an ATV accident in rural Cuba, Illinois and was transported via Life Flight to Children's Hospital of Illinois where her life was saved. "We're impressed that OSF can attract these quality physicians to help children," Bill has said. After learning more about OSF Saint Francis and Children's Hospital, the DiSommas were inspired to make a generous donation to the Milestone Project.
In 2011, Bill's Chicago-based trading company, Jump Trading, further their commitment to OSF by donating $25 million to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP) for the creation of Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center (Jump). Jump Trading is a virtual care delivery setting that replicates all areas of patient and family care. Actual medical equipment is combined with state-of-the-art simulation devices to provide the highest level of medical research, training, and innovation and to attract the finest minds in clinical education. As remarkable as the Jump facility is, more significant is what it does. Jump programs and objectives are central in improving the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of care for community members across the region. Thanks to Bill and Mary's generosity, Jump now serves as an incubator where collaboration, innovation, and improvement leads the transformation of health care worldwide.