Behind the Scenes: The Foundation at KVH

We sat down with Laura Bobovski, Foundation Assistant, and Donna Walker, Foundation Board of Directors, to learn more about the work of the Foundation in supporting Kittitas Valley Healthcare.

What’s the purpose of the Foundation?

L: We’re a charitable organization that works to support KVH and its role in providing healthcare in the community.

How does the Foundation interact with the community?

D: Well, I’m fairly new, but as people realize that I’m on the Foundation board, I get questions. So we have one-on-one in the community, where people have questions about what’s going on at the hospital.

L: We engage the community through various fundraising events such as the Gobble Wobble 5K for Wellness, the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign for breast cancer services, our annual Gala which targets a specific need at KVH to fund, and our annual appeal mailing each fall. A lot of the interaction is through ambassadors, our board members, who do outreach to community groups and citizens about the benefits of supporting healthcare in the valley.

What is your role within the Foundation?

L: I act as a liaison between the board of the Foundation and the hospital. I’m here to assist the board with their goals of fundraising, donations, and events in support of KVH.

D: I’m still figuring my role. But right now, Tough Enough to Wear Pink is my event. I volunteered for several years prior to being on the Foundation board. It’s a year round commitment by the time we do all the planning and find merchandise that we’re going to sell.

Who’s going to be driving the spring gala?

L: There’s a committee overseeing the planning of the gala, but it takes all of the board members to successfully carry out such a large event.

What’s the structure of the Foundation board?

L: Jim Daly is president. Bill Boyum is vice president. Jerry Grebb is finance officer and Cindy Smith is secretary. They’re the executives. It’s a 2-year appointment.

What are the challenges working with/in the Foundation?

L: Educating the community as to what the Foundation is and that we are separate from KVH. Our board of directors oversee the nonprofit charity side of the Foundation and the Board of Commissioners oversee the hospital. I think some people get them confused. There’s a clear and separate division of the hospital and the Foundation with two separate managing arms.

Any challenges that you can think of? You keep saying you’re new. So there’s probably a bit of a learning curve challenge.

D: Laura’s position has changed. It’s been redefined. I think it’s a challenge for us to realize there is more on our shoulders, more of a responsibility to get things done. And for me as a new member, understanding the finances has been difficult.

L: And there is a big responsibility by the Foundation to honor the donations given, exactly…

Apply them in the spirit they were intended.

L: Yes. And to make sure, if somebody gives to hospice, it’s got to go to hospice. We need to honor the intentions of the donor as best as we can. People trust us with their wishes. Often, they donate in memory of a loved one.

Seems like these gifts have their own emotion and history and passion. It’s not just a donation.

L: Exactly. We get a lot coming through hospice in honor of a loved one. This afternoon, I’ve got to return a call from a lady who wants to give in honor of her recently departed friends. So there’s a lot of weight behind that to make sure it’s being used properly.

This work can be very emotional. You know, somebody passes and you get phone calls from the community members wanting to give on their behalf. It’s very touching.

It gives you a good view of the community.

L: I think that’s why a lot of our board members step up and work tirelessly throughout the year, particularly in the case of Tough Enough to Wear Pink. I mean, you’re dealing with breast cancer survivors. A lot of them have lost people in the community, and they’re all stepping forward. When we were selling things at Rodeo, people were coming up and saying, “I lost my sister…” People are coming through the doors in the rodeo spirit, but they’re also sharing their losses with you and it’s just – it’s gut wrenching, sometimes. One man gave us $100 out of his pocket in honor of somebody. It was powerful.

It wasn’t about the tax deduction. He was just giving.

L: No, he didn’t want a T shirt. He didn’t want a hat. He just saw that it was Tough Enough to Wear Pink and gave $100 on his way in, in honor of somebody that he loved, and that – that takes a lot on his behalf. To be standing there receiving that gift is very, very touching.

D: I think for me personally, I’ve done a lot of volunteering locally in different capacities, but then I thought carefully about how I could best serve the larger community. That’s why I’ve landed at KVH.

What are the rewards? Why are you serving in this role?

L: I think a lot of the board members would say they’ve had personal experience, they’ve had personal loss, and that a hospital is very important to the entire community. We have one in this county and we’re very lucky to have it.

Anything surprising or unexpected that you’ve learned while you’ve been serving the Foundation?

D: In my first couple of meetings, I was intrigued by the people on the Foundation board with an extremely wide variety of expertise. They bring a lot to the board and take it very seriously.

L: I was surprised by how knowledgeable the board is. Some of our board members go way back and personally know a lot of community members and their histories. “They’ve moved and aren’t at this address.” “Their spouse died. We need to reach out to them.” It’s the personal connections that the board has with the community that has really blown me away.

How does the Foundation support the KVH mission to provide quality patient care?

D: I know how seriously the Foundation members weigh the options for using funds raised. I mean, there are lively discussions about how to best use those funds to provide better healthcare for patients at KVH.

L: We take a lot of input from the hospital itself in terms of what they need. What we can do to support KVH. So, there’s a lot of input, not just from administration but from department heads. We like to hear from them and know what they are doing, and what can we do to support them.

If someone wants to make a donation, but they want to know more about the options as far as where money could go or what it would do, what would you recommend?

L: Call the Foundation office so that we can discuss their intentions or talk with a board member. More information can be found online at the KVH website.