Friday, March 21, 2014

Meal-Making Groups ... Your Participation is So Important!

Last month the UVA Department of Anesthesiology was the first large hospital office to organize and produce full-day meal packets. Details on that successful project are provided on the IHS blog site posting of March 3, 2014. The Department took advantage of the program which allows University employees sixteen (16) hours annually for community service. Guess where they devoted their time?

Spring is sprung ... and old friends are invigorated

 Three (3) steadfast friends of the charity are planning meal-making sessions later this month. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville, VA; Louisa, VA  Scout Pack 183; and The Children's Garden of Earlysville, VA have been partners in this food program for the last three years.  A new participant, which has indicated that they wish to be a "repeat provider" is Unity Church in Charlottesville.  Read on ...

The Uniteens of Unity of Charlottesville engaged in a labor of love

A note from Gina Leah, Unity Church Coordinator

"The Uniteens are a group of middle school students who attend Unity and gather as a group twice a month to learn and share spiritually. As part of a first-ever service project sleep-over event, seven of our teens joined together to assemble meal packets for Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS). With financial assistance from the congregation and ministers at Unity of Charlottesville - Reverend Don Lansky and Reverend Patricia Gulino Lansky - and shopping help provided by Youth Minister Kate Adamson, the Uniteens were able to purchase enough products for 24 healthy full-day meals.

The enthusiasm shown by these young people was delightful! To make things 'flow', they lined up in a circle and began playing the beat to "The Cup Song", filling up gallon zipper bags with everything from plastic-ware and paper bowls to healthy snacks, breakfast, and lunch and dinner items. Their joy and enthusiasm was contagious! As a special treat for their efforts, the teens were joined by Reverend Don Lansky - who treated them to dinner!

After everything was cleaned up and we were ready to settle down for the evening, I asked them if they enjoyed this labor of love, and their overall thoughts. Each of them enjoyed the packing, but enjoyed even more the feeling that they were doing something important to help people in the Virginia community. When I asked them if they'd like to do this again, the answer was a resounding YES! One young lady asked if we could do this next month!

Two members of the Uniteens spoke to our congregation the next day about their experience and how wonderful they felt being able to be of service.  What an amazing group of young people! I feel so blessed to be able to spend time with them. We thank IHS for the opportunity to express the Unity teaching of putting our love into action in the world!

                                                     Blessings ... Gina Leah
Become involved in this on-going food program ... making meals or providing funds

Just visit the link herein, and read about the food program. Download and share the GUIDE for making these special meals for underfunded caregivers and outpatients who come to Charlottesville for treatment at UVA Medical Center.  These generous acts by small and large groups throughout central Virginia make a cumulative difference for so many who simply would not eat without this program.  If you need more ideas ... e-mail us at

                                                                                 Sincerely ...   T. Wade Clegg III, IHS

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Personal Call to Arms

Am I taking liberties to get your attention? ABSOLUTELY  YES!  My understanding of a militia is a fighting force composed of nonprofessional fighters called upon to enter a combat situation. Consider this charity (IHS) a  fighting force, not in need of replacements, but a few more units to engage and capture new ground. And that is the objective when an underfunded patient or caregiver arrives at UVA Medical Center ... to feel firmly welcomed and comforted, able to take a breath, begin to think clearly for planning next steps ... and begin the process of navigating either self or another back to health.  Allow me to pose this question:  When was the last time you had to deal with a critical illness or injury away from home, and found yourself without a place to sleep and nothing to eat?  Join the fighters to make sure it never happens during our watch. 

The IHS fight began five and a half years ago.

The mission was and remains a sustained battle to meet a variety of situations we named "unmet needs" for those outpatients and caregivers of patients who struggle to balance basic necessities a long way from home. The treatment may be free, the professional medical staff among the best,  but without funds for travel, lodging, food, medical co-pays - critical decisions must be made ... TO COME OR NOT!

What if an underfunded person arrives and circumstances dictate a change of plans?

Now we are talking about being caught in an exceptional dilemma.  The UVA Hospitality is full,
or the policy for staying in the Hospitality House does not allow for a child under 18 to stay, and there was no one at home base to assist, so the child is with the patient. And ...  the transportation which brought the patient has gone, or the only transport to get to Charlottesville arrived late at night, and a patient and child are stranded. Now - add to those frustrating situations the fact that a doctor has seen the patient upon arrival and found something very nasty is happening, so the patient is asked to stay over for tests, maybe for several days. Yes - this is a lot to take in, but patients arrive daily who are not prepared for these critically unexpected situations.  The next question of course, until a doctor indicates that one can be healed or that life is about to end, is WHERE DO I SLEEP, EAT, AND SIMPLY MAINTAIN DURING THIS HIGH PERIOD OF ANXIETY?

The Battlefield can seem really bleak when an individual has no ammunition to maintain

IHS has eliminated so many conditions by becoming a "go to" 24/7 independent charity for all UVA hospital social workers to access for temporary emergency situations as described above. Patients are screened and approved by social workers, and when needed,  IHS pays for lodging (commercial and Hospitality House); provides up to 300 full-day meal packets monthly through social staff;  and provides food on request to Hospitality House. Of course the other unmet needs have been mentioned, but lodging and food remain the most prominent immediate concerns.  No one is confronted with having to sleep on a bench inside or outside UVA Medical Center, or inside their car on a side street, or stay hungry. Those situations are now rare ... thanks to a dedicated volunteer squad working closely with social workers.

We need new recruits (that would hopefully be YOU)  to fortify some very real challenges

The UVA Hospitality House (HH) changed its policy as of last month for the lowest pay range (indigent) guests from $1/night to $10/night for ALL guests.  This change was felt  immediately as presenting a significant challenge for us. Remember - our initial objective was to assist with immediate " temporary commercial lodging assistance"  for a few days only when HH was fully occupied or HH policy prevented use of Hospitality House.

A Reality Check of what this change NOW means

IHS has paid for underfunded guests at Hospitality House with a desperate need for as little as $1/night over the last few years.  The longer staying guests who paid only $1/night rate were almost always cancer outpatients here for extended chemotherapy from 4-8 weeks; therefore, what has been a fee from $28 - $56 will jump to $280 for the first 14 days, and then $5/night for the remaining treatment days. In other words, a singular patient's 8 week fee could range from $350 - $490.  You can see how a few extended long-term stays for chemo outpatients and a scattering of guests who only stay for a few days can easily exceed our commercial lodging cost monthly. In essence this new change will increase our need for lodging funds 100%.

Some Dedicated Friends have suggested that we must seek new soldiers in this fight

The question is:  Are you willing to help us with this idea?  Are you willing to lead an effort to dedicate as little as $10/monthly and ask 10 others to consider your lead.  Reach out to members of your family, neighbors, co-workers, church members, club members, etc. to join you in dedication of $10/monthly.  ACTUALLY ASK 10 OTHERS TO CONSIDER JOINING YOU.  Each one who joins the fight, even if only $5/monthly, will likely become a permanent soldier.

We are prepared to support you and introduce what IHS does

You have already been introduced to IHS through our website and blog postings. Once this website is read by others, our objectives are abundantly clear.  It is so  important for contacts to understand that this is an ALL volunteer public charity (NO ONE is paid) and funds are fully used to meet the unmet needs of the least able to sustain while in Charlottesville for treatment.

It's so easy to reach out and discuss generosity which affects the lives of so many

We know that people want to be asked to make a difference. We know that people want to be assured that their giving is going exactly where it is intended. We need for you to bring this awareness to your sphere of influence.  If you can do this ... we will sustain and continue to put our hearts, our time, our feet forward to secure this program which is so vital for so many.

Upon accessing our website home page, the easiest way to become a singular or consistent contributor with a small monthly donation, the PayPal opportunity is available. Please let us know you have read this e-mail and offer comments or suggestions. 

Sincerely ... from ALL of us on the front lines daily.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

One Smooth Operation in a Large Hospital Office

Last week IHS received a call from Lynn Heath at the UVA Department of Anesthesiology, located in the old hospital building within the UVA Health System complex in downtown Charlottesville. She simply called and said, "I have full-day meals ready for pickup." We had no idea that this project was even in the works, but we were truly delighted and immediately arranged for retrieval.

I asked Lynn to share this experience with readers of this e-mail and then for placement on our charity blog site. This is the FIRST time that a large hospital office had planned, collected and produced full-day meal packets ... used their community service hours available for supporting a charity ... and it seemed appropriate to share how it came about ... hoping to stimulate other office participation.

A Note from Lynn T. Heath, Executive Assistant to George F. Rich, Chair
Department of Anesthesiology .... Our department selected IHS for holiday charity.
"On most days, things are pretty quiet in the Department of Anesthesiology administrative offices at the University of Virginia. And then there was February 21, when ten staffers worked together to assemble 72 meal packets, each package containing enough food to last one person for a full day. We also included a handmade greeting card as a personal touch. A fun change of pace for a worthwhile cause, and easy enough for any office to pull off.

The need is great in our community, and this project was our small way to address it. We are grateful for the financial stability our jobs (and benefits) create and our ability to reach out to others less fortunate. As administrative employees of the department, we have little direct contact with patients. We hope that our support of outpatients and their families adds to their healing in some small way.

Our project was inspired by holiday giving.  We traditionally take donations for holiday presents for our bosses, and last year, our administrator suggested we contribute to a charity instead of on his behalf.  One of the staff members nominated IHS because of the caring connection to our patients. It was too late to complete the project before the holiday break, and weather delays and staff travel pushed it into February. BUT ... any day is a great day to do this!

What's needed?  IHS makes it easy with clear and comprehensive instructions and hints for shopping and assembly. One staff member volunteered to check prices and planned our purchases. Another collected donations. A third brought in art supplies. Savvy shopping stretched our dollars to fund almost twice the meal packets we had originally planned.

This was a strictly voluntary effort. No departmental money or supplies were used, and there was no pressure - just an invitation! - to participate. When the time came, a few employees were unable to join in because of work commitments, but ten turned out to be a great number for a working team. We naturally divided into different roles: some people opened cartons, others sorted and packed meal bags, others broke down the empty boxes for recycling. We had artists who gave special attention to each card, and people who felt shy about even signing them, but it all worked out. Since several people who had donated money were not able to be present when we stuffed the bag, we included them by signing cards with their names.

AND we used our community service time. It only took us an hour from start to finish to assemble our meal packets and make cards, and our department administrators were happy to allow us the time. The majority of the time went into shopping and transporting all that food, a task that could be divided among several people.  As University employees, we are given 16 hours to spend in "Community Service" activities, so it's easy for any department to do something similar. It's a project that can work with almost any amount of money or time available, since it's easily scaled to the resources at hand."  

                                                                                       Sincerely ... Lynn