Summer Strong and Beyond: making life better for those who need it the most

If you ever wondered if you could make a difference in someone’s life – beyond a clinical setting – consider this:

  • In 2016, you helped send 800 kids in Central Massachusetts to summer camp through the Summer Strong program.
  • In 2017, you helped send 1,030 kids to summer camp – and packed 140 backpacks full of school supplies for families working to create brighter futures for themselves and their children.

BA_ED

The Summer Strong initiative that sent these kids to camp is now “Summer Strong and Beyond.” In addition to providing camp opportunities that help underprivileged children stay on track with their academic and social development, Summer Strong and Beyond will provide backpacks and school supplies for families who can’t afford them and support the Women’s Initiative Dollar $cholars program, which helps young women gain financial independence.

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Working together I know we can beat last year’s campaign results – our most successful on record.  I’d like to share some thoughts about why I believe this campaign is so important for us to support and commit to each year.

As a health care organization, UMass Memorial addresses about 20 percent of a patient’s overall health needs through the care we provide. Close to 80 percent of overall health is shaped by what is called “social determinants” that can act as barriers to good health. These include:

  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Safety
  • Substance abuse
  • Unemployment

To succeed in providing true overall health to our patients, we must address the social determinants within our patient population that have a negative impact on health. This is the reason we team up with the United Way of Central Massachusetts every year.  Through its expansive network of community agencies, the United UWCM_fullcolor_140pxWay connects people to the resources they need to overcome very real, daily challenges in the areas of health, education and family stability.

As the largest employer in Worcester with close to 14,000 employees, UMass Memorial Health Care has a unique ability – and responsibility – to make a positive impact in the local community where many of us, as well as our patients, live and work.

And just a little can go a long, long way: If we all donated one dollar a week (through automatic payroll deduction), an inner-city child can attend summer camp this year…a refugee student can receive a backpack filled with school supplies…and a woman in an unsafe relationship can get access to food and shelter.

For more information and inspiration, I encourage you to watch this powerful video. Last year, the United Way helped 66,000 people in our community; let’s commit to helping even more in 2018.

You can pledge your support in several ways, via text at 774-224-GIVE (4483); you can Pledge electronically; by using the Pledge form or Via email. I urge you to support this year’s campaign. In doing so, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of thousands of people, patients and neighbors in our local community who need our support and care.

Thanks for all of your great ideas, and for taking great care of our patients and each other.

Eric