Tri-City charitable foundations do big things with minimal staffing

Tri-City HeraldJuly 20, 2013 

Cancer patients who walk through the doors of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in Kennewick can leave with a free wig or scarf to cover their bald heads, no matter where they’re being treated.

The cancer center’s Resource Center — which provides a range of items, from wigs and scarves to soothing satin pillowcases to post-masectomy products such as prosthetics — is open to all cancer patients in the Tri-City area.

It’s one of the services funded by the Tri-Cities Cancer Center Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the center and the local cancer community.

“All the money we raise stays to help our friends and neighbors in the Tri-Cities,” said Elizabeth McLaughlin, foundation director.

The goal is “to make a better, healthier community,” she said.

While the organization helps provide some unique services, it has a lot in common with several other Tri-City-based foundations that exist to support a related organization — from its minimal staffing to its fundraising strategies to the way it’s governed.

All three Tri-City hospitals — Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Kennewick General Hospital and Lourdes Health Network in Pasco — have associated charitable foundations.

So does Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

Contributions to those foundations remained fairly static or grew overall during the roughly three-year time period the Herald examined.

The CBC Foundation focuses on providing student scholarships.

Last year, it gave roughly $550,000 in scholarships to about 350 students, placing the Pasco college in the top 10 percent of community colleges in the state for the amount of scholarships awarded, said Bob Rosselli, the foundation’s CEO and executive director.

The foundation also has helped with other projects, from raising money to reinstate the college’s nuclear technology program and build the new planetarium to helping with equipment for the agricultural and music departments.

Kennewick General Hospital’s foundation has helped buy electrophysiology equipment for heart patients and sponsors the Camp KGH for youth with Type 1 diabetes, among other projects.

The Lourdes Foundation’s efforts include sponsoring a free mammogram program and helping keep the Lourdes Counseling Center day program for children with mental health issues running in the summer months.

The foundations hold special events such as golf tournaments to raise money, but also use a variety of other methods — from direct mail campaigns to private tours and appeals.

In late 2010, the Kadlec Foundation launched a capital campaign to expand the Richland hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, and has raised about $6 million of the $10 million goal.

Construction could begin by year’s end, said Larry Christensen, Kadlec’s vice president of resource development.

The foundation also was behind the campaign that raised nearly $7.5 million for the Don and Lori Watts Pediatric Center, which opened at the hospital in the fall of 2009.

All three hospital foundations, the cancer center foundation and the CBC foundation have minimal staff — no more than six workers and in most cases only two or three. The foundations’ top staff weren’t included in the Herald’s compensation database because money for most or all of their salaries comes from the hospital or college and not donor dollars.

The foundations are guided by volunteer boards and rely on volunteers to help with events and programs.

Foundation leaders said they’re grateful to the community for its support.

“It always goes back to that — you’re not sure how (a program) is going to resonate with donors,” said Dennis Maughan, director of the KGH Foundation. “And then when they come out, it’s very heartwarming. Wow, I believed in the program and the hospital believed in the program — it’s good to see the community embrace it.”

Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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