Dear Friends,

During my three years with the Memorial Medical Center Foundation, I have been proud to be part of the Memorial family. But this year, I could not be prouder. I am in awe of my colleagues, the healthcare heroes who did not hide, but ran to the fight. They pushed their fears aside to ensure that our patients received amazing care day after day. These colleagues contributed tirelessly—some in plain sight and others behind the scenes, using their skills to keep us safe.

This year of challenges demonstrates the importance of helping one another. While our colleagues kept us healthy and safe, the Foundation provided them with educational and financial assistance. The Foundation provided help to many through a new COVID-19 Colleague Assistance Fund. This program provided assistance with items like groceries, utilities and child care payments.

Even though much of our attention focused on the coronavirus, crucial treatment for cancer and transplants did not stop. The Foundation provided assistance to 421 patients in need. The Foundation’s five patient assistance programs provided more than $153,000 in assistance—which is $15,000 more than the previous year.

This year’s Community Update shares the stories of our community, showing gratitude for our healthcare heroes through donations, fundraisers and grants. We have faced many challenges in 2020, but together we are stronger. We are grateful for your support to the Memorial Medical Center Foundation and the healthcare heroes we are honored to serve.

A Message from Board Chair Rob Pietroburgo

As I sit and think about the challenges of 2020, I have also reflected on the purpose of our Foundation and the contributions we make to the greater community. I think it is precisely at times like these that the significance of Foundation support is particularly apparent. When I joined the Foundation Board nine years ago, we awarded about $300,000 in a wide variety of grants. This year, as a result of so many incredibly generous donors, we’ll be administering grants of more than $700,000 to healthcare-related entities in our community. I’m truly in awe of the amount of money we’re able to put back into the community, improving the health and well-being of the populations we serve.

Thank you to the volunteers who do so much to assist our efforts, the donors whose kindness and generosity make all of this possible, the exceptional leadership team at Memorial Medical Center and all of the frontline healthcare professionals.

We are fortunate there is so much goodness in our community. I am grateful to all of you.

Rob Pietroburgo | Chair, Memorial Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors

MMCF Welcomes Three New Board Members in 2020

COVID-19 Relief Funds Support Memorial Respiratory Clinic

MMC Foundation provided $11,324 to offset the costs of establishing the South Sixth Street Respiratory Clinic. The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created by generous community members who wished to provide resources to Memorial healthcare workers during the global pandemic. As healthcare workers fought to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Springfield community did their part to support those on the front lines. To learn about Hearts for Healthcare Workers, visit ChooseMemorial.org/About/Annual-Report.

Stay Safe, Stay Strong: A Symbol of Hope and Healing

Inspired by a call for positive statements on social media, friends Julie Dailey and Erin Weller created a design that incorporated some of those thoughts with a colorful daisy. That design became the basis for a T-shirt that was sold to raise money to support healthcare workers at Springfield hospitals. For each Daisy T-shirt sold, $10 was donated to the hospital foundations. Their kindness and hard work resulted in a donation of $1,840 to MMC Foundation.

Memorial Receives Grant for Colleague Assistance

MMC Foundation received a $20,000 grant from PNC to assist colleagues facing hardships due to COVID-19. MMC Foundation, in collaboration with all the foundations of Memorial Health System, created the COVID-19 Colleague Assistance Fund.

The fund offers financial support to colleagues who may be experiencing financial hardships created by COVID-19. Financial assistance may include but is not limited to car payments, child care, groceries, rent/mortgage and utilities.

The confidential application process is reviewed by a committee of colleagues on behalf of each Foundation. Support is based on availability of donations and existing colleague assistance fund balances.

The MMC Foundation provided $14,000 to 23 colleagues in 2020.

System Care and Compassion Leave FY 2020

  • Compassion Care - 10 recipients totaling $5,000 in cash grants
  • System Care/COVID-19 Colleague Assistance - 32 recipients totaling $22,562 in cash grants

Education Assistance Grants

  • Certification Reimbursement - 142 recipients totaling $40,904 in cash grants
  • Educational Grants - 14 recipients totaling $50,419 in cash grants

A Special Thanks

The Foundation offers a special thank you to the staff at Green View Companies for hand-making 125 pink bows for the five hospital campuses and respiratory clinics of Memorial Health System. The pink bows complimented the pink Hearts for Healthcare Workers signs, shirts and car clings supporting our colleagues on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindness Never Tasted So Sweet

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants, friends and community organizations rallied around Memorial’s healthcare heroes by providing delicious meals and treats as a way to show their gratitude.


The annual grant program is at the heart of what we do at the Foundation, and we’re proud of the positive impact these funds have had on the health and well-being of local residents for more than 30 years.

But the unprecedented uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a difficult situation. In light of the challenges faced by our community and our entire nation during a time of continued social distancing, our Foundation’s board of directors made the difficult decision to temporarily defer the annual grant program.

This was not an easy choice, as these funds have the potential to make a tremendous difference for organizations across our community. We are so inspired by the stories of impact from past grants and so honored to be partners with these organizations in our community. The board of directors resumed the Foundation’s annual grant program. Applications for 2021 will be reviewed by the Grants Review Committee with awards in May.

Grant in Action

Eve Fischberg, executive director of The Joy of Movement: Dance for Parkinson’s, has not let COVID-19 stop her from offering dance classes to people with Parkinson’s disease. Eve has produced 11 weekly videos in her home and posted them on YouTube so class participants can continue to sharpen their dancing skills, which benefits their balance, flexibility, functional movement and endurance. Dancing also engages cognitive skills and elevates mood.

“We continue to use specific themes for each quarter, as I am trying to keep the experience as normalized for our dancers as possible,” Eve said. “This quarter our theme is ‘Dancing through the Decades,’ so I’m using music loved and requested by our dancers. I am adapting the vernacular dance styles of each period for our dancers and I have had to eliminate movement across the floor, due to practical and safety concerns. So, all dances are performed while seated or standing with the support of a chair.”

The Joy of Movement received a $2,400 grant from the Foundation in 2019.
While COVID-19 prohibited in-person classes, participants were able to keep moving through videos recorded and posted on YouTube.

Helping Patients

Honoring Our Veterans

Memorial Home Services partners with We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization to recognize the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families. The money to purchase the American flags comes from the Foundation’s Hospice fund, which is supported by donations from the public and Memorial colleagues through the annual colleague giving campaign.

Since 2017 the Foundation has provided $2,328 to purchase 155 American flags for veterans receiving hospice and palliative care.

Helping the Homeless

Julie Benson, the president, founder and one-woman staff of Helping the Homeless and a frequent and welcome sight to the homeless in downtown Springfield, distributed the blankets to those in need. The Foundation also donated 38 toiletry bags to Helping Hands, an organization that provides shelter and resources to individuals experiencing homeless in downtown Springfield.

Last fall, the Foundation donated 24 blankets to Helping the Homeless.

Donation Supports Emergency Department

Once again demonstrating their commitment to central Illinois, Medics First Ambulance Company made a donation to Memorial Medical Center Foundation for emergency services at Memorial Medical Center.

Sharing Wishes Fund Brings Joy

The Sharing Wishes Fund through the Memorial Medical Center Foundation provided music therapy, seat lift chairs, family photo sessions, gift cards and even a Build-A-Bear with the recorded voice of a patient for her grandchildren.

The Memorial Medical Center Foundation administers the Sharing Wishes Fund, which has made a significant impact in the lives of many hospice patients and families in central Illinois since it was established in 2012.

This past year, more than $11,500 was provided to help patients navigate health challenges with practical assistance and the granting of 34 patient “wishes.”

Through her work as a Memorial Home Hospice social worker, Teela Whyte, MSW, LSW, sees firsthand how the Sharing Wishes Fund brings joy to patients and their families. One of her patients had kept original dog tags from his military service, but the tags had an error.

“It was important to him to get a new, corrected set, not just for himself, but also for his children to keep and cherish,” Teela said. “My heart is most touched by patients who find joy in asking for a Sharing Wish that is meaningful not only to them but also to their loved ones.”

Some of the wishes Teela has helped with include providing gift cards to supermarkets and restaurants. One of the most popular requests for patients is the lift recliner chair. This chair helps patients with their comfort, independence and mobility while reducing the risk of injury for not only the patient, but caregivers as well. She also recently submitted a wish for an acoustic guitar for a patient with an implanted heart device that prevents him from playing his electric guitar.

“The magnitude of the Foundation funds is an under-praised program, in my opinion,” Teela said. “Our hospice patients are often surprised to learn of the program. Many choose not to fulfill any wish as they want the funds to go to those ‘who need it most.’”

Online donations to the Memorial Medical Center Sharing Wishes Fund can be made at: MemorialMedical.com/memorial-medical-center-foundation/giving/sharing-wishes-fund.

Sharing Wishes FY 2020

  • Transportation assistance for patients - 3 recipients totaling $848 in cash grants
  • Meals/groceries for patients - 4 recipients totaling $1,053 in cash grants
  • Direct cash assistance to patients - 27 recipients totaling $9,704 in cash grants

Examples of direct cash assistance includes:

  • music therapy sessions
  • seat lift chairs
  • family photo sessions
  • various gift cards
  • Build-A-Bear with recorded voice of patient for grandchildren

A Head Start on Lifelong Learning

In November 2019, Family Maternity Suites staff began sending each baby born at MMC home with a gift: a book intended to spark a lifelong love of reading.

Five different titles are available, each one written and illustrated by Eric Carle, author of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” which has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. The read-aloud books will be distributed until all 1,500 copies provided by Friends of Memorial Medical Center and Memorial Medical Center Foundation have run out.

The titles are “My Very First Book of Colors,” “My Very First Book of Words,” “My Very First Book of Numbers,” “My Very First Book of Shapes” and “My Very First Book of Animal Sounds.”

Each book comes with a label listing five reasons for parents to read to their newborns. The benefits of reading are soothing babies, developing memory skills, boosting creative thinking, building vocabulary and increasing attention span.

The book giveaway was initiated by Diane Rutledge, a former chair of the board of directors for MHS and MMC and a partner with District Leadership Solutions. She previously served as the superintendent of Springfield School District 186.

“I’ve always believed that the way everyone begins to build the foundation for a healthy and productive life begins with reading and the love for books and learning,” Rutledge said. “It’s my hope that families might continue the practice of adding books to their children’s libraries and reading to them regularly.”

Diane Rutledge, immediate past chair of Memorial Health System Board of Directors, presents a book to a sweet newborn at MMC. Photo taken October 2019.

Virtual Festival of Trees

To ensure the public’s health and safety, Memorial’s 2020 Festival of Trees went virtual. The online event was given a theme fitting for the year, A Season of Hope.

“Memorial Health System’s highest priority is the health and safety of our communities and that applies equally to Memorial’s Festival of Trees,” said Melissa Hansen Schmadeke, executive director of Memorial Medical Center Foundation. “Anyone, anywhere, at any time, was able to view online the amazing work of our decorators, who transformed trees and wreaths to reflect the theme of A Season of Hope.” The theme was chosen to encourage everyone that together we will conquer COVID-19.

Keeping the same timeframe as the in-person event, the viewing and people’s choice voting of the beautifully decorated trees and wreaths was available free of charge from November 21–29. Viewers were able to vote for their favorite designs in categories including Traditional, Kid-Friendly, Most Creative and Best Use of a Theme.

Memorial’s Festival of Tress is an annual event that raises money for health-related projects throughout central Illinois. Since 1989, the Festival of Trees has raised more than $5.9 million to fund those projects. Visit MemorialMedicalFoundation.com to learn more.