It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health SystemThere is a proverb that says, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” Have you have been in a position at some point in your life when you had to rely on the generosity of others? I would guess that most of us have. I know it has been true for me.

When I was 15 years old, my father unexpectedly lost his job. With three children and a wife to support, he was devastated and very worried about our family’s future. Fortunately, two things happened which made it possible for our family to transition through this challenging time until he got a new job.

First, my parents decided that my mother should return to work. In the mid-1960’s, a mother working outside the home was not the social norm. Nevertheless, my mom had been an exceptional legal secretary before she decided to stay home to focus on raising me, and eventually, raising my brother and sister. Fortunately, she had stayed in touch with her former employer during this time. So when my dad lost his job, my mom made an appointment to meet with her former agency to see if they had any job openings. Fortunately, they were hiring, and they offered her a job on the spot.

I remember there were tears of relief when my mother came home to say she would start working the following Monday. Because I was the oldest, my mother sat down with me to ask for help. She would need someone to be home for my brother and sister when they returned from school, and she would need me to cook dinner. I was so relieved that she would be able to help my dad and our family that I quickly agreed to do as she asked, even though it meant I would be giving up some of my after-school activities. To me, it felt like a small price to pay for my family’s future.

The other source of help we received came from my grandparents. I am not sure if my parents ever realized that I had overheard them asking my grandfather for a loan until we could get back on our feet. Fortunately, this is something my grandfather was able to do, and he told my parents not to worry about paying him back until they felt they were in a position to do.

This period of my life taught me a lot. First, the example of my mother’s former employer hiring her back on the spot taught me that it is important to stay in touch with people with whom I have worked in the past, as well as the importance of doing the best job possible while in their employ. Whether this relationship results in receiving a good reference or in assistance getting another job when the time is right, former employers and supervisors can be invaluable in helping us find future opportunities, should we ever need their assistance.

Secondly, and most importantly, I learned about the generosity of others and how it can make a tremendous difference in another person’s life when they need help. Whether the difficulty is losing a job, coming down with a serious illness, or any number of unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, anyone can experience a situation in which they may someday need to rely on the help of others. This is the lesson foremost on my mind this week as we approach the close of this year’s State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC), which ends on November 14.

Because of my experience as a 15-year-old, I have always supported organizations I believe in, such as the more than 300 charities represented by SECC. I have found that there are few things in life as satisfying as giving generously to help others, even though we may never know who has benefited from our gift.

For those of you who have already given to SECC, thank you! To those of you who have yet to donate, I hope that you will do so today. No amount is too small, and it is so easy to give. You can write a check for a one-time donation, or you can make a one-time or monthly gift through a payroll deduction. I know that some of you may not be in a position to give, but for those who are, please donate today. And remember, no gift is too small—we are harnessing the power of collective giving. Together, UTMB’s contributions will go far!

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Happy National Radiologic Technology Week (Nov. 6 – 12). Thank you for everything you do to deliver excellent patient care and promote healthcare safety!

Give. Together We Change Lives.

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health SystemThis weekend, I watched in horror as Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines with an intensity 3.5 times more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, killing thousands of people and leaving more than half a million others homeless. The storm was unprecedented, and today, news reports describe an emerging public health crisis as survivors are forced to live in unsanitary conditions and drink contaminated water. Meanwhile, food and medical supplies are scarce.

Although the damage that Hurricane Ike inflicted on Galveston Island and the surrounding area was but a fraction of the devastation faced in the Philippines, many residents of the island did experience the destruction of their homes, saw their entire lives turned upside down, and in some cases lost friends and family members. I believe there is a great deal of empathy among us for those in the Philippines, as we reflect on our own experiences with disaster.

Perhaps the people of the Philippines will soon see a glimmer of hope amid the destruction. I thought of this as I read the story of a 21-year-old woman who swam through deep water, clinging to floating logs to save herself and her unborn child. Thankfully, she made it to the airport where medical personnel and volunteers had created a makeshift hospital. In the midst of all of this chaos and ruin, the young woman gave birth to a healthy baby.

In times of catastrophe, many of us ask what we can do. How can we help? How can we make a difference? Years ago, I decided that my contributions to the State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC) were a small way I could offer my help.

I look forward to this campaign each year—I have an opportunity to review numerous charitable organizations that conduct very important work in communities both at home and around the globe, and then choose which will benefit from my contribution over the next twelve months.

In the past, my ability to give was much less than it is now; however, I believe it is not the amount we give, but more importantly, the fact that we have given. So today, I encourage each of you to give to the SECC.

Giving is easy, but the deadline is fast approaching! We can make a one-time contribution via cash, check or online, or we can make a pledge by payroll deduction (monthly or a single gift). No amount is too small! Please visit the SECC website at http://www.utmb.edu/secc to begin the process of making your donation today. Let’s see if the Health System can reach 100% participation!

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 “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  ― John Bunyan