Creativity, hard work helped a decade of SECC chairs be successful
For each of the past 10 years, someone in UTMB leadership had been tasked with the responsibility of leading the university’s participation in the State Employee Charitable Campaign. It’s a big job on top of a job, and the stakes are high: collectively, the dollars we contribute as a workforce are substantial, and countless charities and local organizations could see their charitable work come to a crawl without the resources we provide. Each year this past decade brought its own unique challenges and opportunities.
In gratitude to past chairs for their efforts, we have an opportunity to reflect on their campaigns, and to thank them for their service. Here are a few of the people who’ve led us, and their impressions on the experience and the campaign:
Dr. Ben Raimer
Senior Vice President
Health Policy & Legislative Affairs
2001, 2002 and 2008 Campaign Chair
Although Dr. Ben Raimer’s leadership in the early years of the campaign were instrumental to the success that would follow, his role in jump starting the campaign in the months following Hurricane Ike may have been the most telling indication of his confidence in the people of UTMB. He wrote in his letter to campus, in the final days of an amazing abbreviated campaign:
“The power of faith never fails to amaze me. Discussions about resurrecting our State Employee Charitable Campaign started during the darkest hours after Ike, when the mountains of rubble still lined island streets and the air was thick with the smell of mud and mold. The thought of running a charitable campaign among a workforce that had suffered through so much, wore heavy. The need was certainly there; could or would the support follow?
That’s were faith came in, my faith in the people of UTMB. I don’t expect us to break records this year, I know many are not in a position to give, or may have already committed resources to other urgent purposes. But I had faith that those who could give, would give. And so far, they’ve done so generously. Thank you.”
Even in the rubble of Ike, the people of UTMB raised more than $350,000 in just about two weeks.
Barbara Thompson, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine
2004 SECC Chair
Dr. Thompson was a gentle force, kind, inspiring, a leader who led by example. Her ties to the community and the people in it were strong and evident throughout the 2004 campaign. She reflected recently:
“We set a high participation goal…but I think the amount that comes in is the most important thing. I personally talked to each Chairman and encouraged them to do something substantial. Not a new idea; Dr. Anderson also did the same.”
On the humorous moments she recalls: “The dunking booth with David Marshall was a big success. I also loved Betty Protas dressing as Tina Turner; she told our department “Tina” would come sing and dance if we had 50% participation--and we did! And she did!”
On why she supports the campaign and what she took away from being chair: “I support SECC because of how important the funding is to all the organizations that depend on it, especially St. Vincent’s and the Humane Society but there are MANY more. It just seems the right thing to do, especially if you are in a good financial position yourself and can afford to help out.
“I enjoyed knowing that I was able to make a personal contribution of time, which seems as important and meaningful as the money.”
Pamela G. Watson, RN, ScD
Dean and Professor, School of Nursing
UTMB Vice President for Education
2005 SECC Chair
Dean Watson took on the responsibility of SECC chair with a single-minded focus: to do great. She put in untold hours, visited groups across campus, and kept communication flowing steadily throughout the campaign. She rolled up her sleeves with her team of volunteers, and together they did great work.
On her motivation as chair: “I felt great responsibility to do my best for UTMB. I wanted UTMB to excel...we brought in more than $ 700,000 dollars in pledges after Hurricane Rita. I was also glad for the School of Nursing. The recognition we received for leading a successful campaign meant a great deal for the faculty and staff of our school; it was a chance to shine.”
On campaign messages: “I chaired the season after the ‘sisters of doom & gloom’ — Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Rita in East Texas. I focused on how grateful we were that Galveston was generally spared, and how much we needed to stretch to help those who had really significant needs.”
On the humorous moments she recalls: “When I presented at a Town Hall meeting, I spoke of a recent visit to the Galveston Humane Society. All these canines and felines were being boarded because their owners had hurricane-damaged homes and couldn't keep them, but they hoped to reclaim them. This touched the hearts of all us animal lovers, but there were some who quipped half jokingly that because of the attention, the animals were doing better than some people.
C. Joan Richardson, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
2007 SECC Chair
Dr. Joan Richardson managed the SECC campaign like she runs her department, or prepares for a crisis, something she did plenty of in her former role as institutional emergency preparedness officer: she planned carefully, executed the plan, adjusted to changes, and put in copious amounts of time and energy. The fact that she is so widely respected (almost revered) made it all go a little easier.
On her strategy: “I focused on participation—it’s not the amount you donate, it’s that you participated. To get the word out, we set up booths in the lobby of the main hospital and the PCP, and I walked around wearing sign boards asking for donations.”
Why she supports the campaign and what she took from it: “The SECC is good for the community. I felt very good about the dollars I helped to raise and what it enabled people to do. I am not sure, but I think my year we may have set what at the time was a record.”
Gary Hankins, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
2009 SECC Chair
Dr. Hankins challenged the SECC committee serving under him to truly make it easy for employees outside of Galveston to support the communities where they live and work. His request became the “give where you live” component of the campaign, which is still with us today.
On the genesis for his “give where you live” idea: “I think everyone knows how good it feels to “give.” We all give to our loved ones, friends and neighbors. We know it’s the right thing to do and we all actually enjoy helping others. A few years ago it was an easy task for me to just remind everyone of that good feeling you get when you give to neighbors, so the idea ‘give where you live’ made sense.”
Why he personally supports SECC: “I think there are so many deserving organizations, but I think Galveston College is my favorite — it’s a wonderful resource for everyone in this area, especially those on the island. We all benefit from having such a great institution in our community that helps so many people build a career and a better life for themselves, which contributes to making Galveston a better place for everyone.”
His thoughts about the role of campaign chair: “Chairing the campaign was no more important than just participating — being the chair that year was a nice experience for me because I got to talk to a lot of fellow employees and share my experiences with them. But every employee who has given to these organizations can tell you how good it is to know that they are helping their neighbors. Since that time in 2009, so many things have happened — those of us still here with jobs feel fortunate and blessed. We see so many of our neighbors without good jobs. And the island is still recovering from Ike. Now more than ever we all need to help our neighbors, and the SECC is an easy, efficient way to meet a lot of needs in our communities.”
Elizabeth Protas, PT, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Health Professions
2010 SECC Chair
Dean Protas threw her heart and soul into the 2010 effort, and by the end of it, she’d put UTMB back on the SECC giving trajectory we’d enjoyed prior to Hurricane Ike. She embraced the statewide theme of “giving rocks,” and took to the SECC stage with power and confidence, never doubting that she could count on the people to open their hearts and pocketbooks.
On her favorite humorous moments: “Who can forget UTMB’s ‘Tina Turner’ who sang Proud Mary with The Bells at the Family Medicine holiday pot-luck? We also gave ‘U rocks’ to our donors.”
On why she personally supports SECC: “SECC is an opportunity for my husband Gene and I to give back to our community for issues we really care about.”
What she enjoyed about the campaign: “I loved the theme ‘Because giving rocks’ the year I chaired the campaign. It gave us many opportunities to use rock & roll themes in our communiqués. How often can you quote John Lennon for a great cause? I also saw firsthand the generosity of our UTMB family. It was extraordinary.”