Philanthropy at its best at the Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation, Sheridan, Montana
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.
― Winston S. Churchill
In the early 2000s, the Administrative Board of Directors of the Ruby Valley Hospital realized the need for a supporting, non-profit, charitable organization to enhance the Ruby Valley Hospital and its mission. In 2006, the Hospital Board created the new foundation, set up its identity and structure and then reached out to the community to fill the new entity’s Board of Directors. The original Foundation Board included Byron Bayers, John Benedict, Les Gilman, Kassie Marsh, and John Stimson.
Typical of most rural hospital foundations, our beginnings were humble. We didn’t have an office or staff, but we did have a wealth of dedicated community volunteers. A gift of $500 from Dr. Warren Swager made it possible for us to open our first checking account. Throughout the years, we have received hundreds of generous donations from community members and beyond who appreciate the value and necessity of having a foundation to support the hospital and medical clinic. Our philosophy on giving from inception to today is that any gift, no matter the amount is always appreciated. The Foundation’s fundraising activities during its formative years included an annual event and a solicitation/mailing every year to strengthen the general fund and assist with the myriad of funding requests from the hospital.
In May 2008, the foundation received its first estate bequest via a generous check in the amount of $112,555 from the Estate of Eda Blair. Her deceased husband, the Honorable District Judge Frank Blair, had been a member of the Hospital Board of Trustees when the current hospital was built in 1964. Judge Blair had been an attorney in Virginia City and later served many years as the District Judge.
Just two years later, in November of 2010 the Hospital Foundation was named in the Shaw Estate (Frank & Dorothy Shaw of Cardwell) and awarded $236,333. Thanks to these bequests and the generosity of our community, the foundation had the financial means and foresight to purchase nearly six acres across the street from the current hospital as the site for the new healthcare facility currently under construction. Additionally, in September of 2017, we received our most generous bequest gift to date, $300,000 from the Jim and Helen Edwards Estate.
The Capital Campaign
In 2015, the Ruby Valley Hospital Board of Trustees decided it was time to build a new hospital and medical clinic. This decision came after ten years of careful consideration and evaluation of the current facility. The Board of Trustees set the Capital Campaign Goal at $2.5 M, which was to be secured within 2 years. The financial success of the campaign would qualify the hospital for a $9.5M USDA loan to build a new 29,368 sq. ft. hospital and medical center.
This would be the first time the Ruby Valley Hospital Foundation managed a Capital Campaign. Given this short time frame and goal, tremendous leadership and dedication would be required from start to finish. We realized that we would have to rely on support from community members, ranches, businesses, foundations, corporations, and service organizations, to help us achieve our goal, a large order for a small community.
We officially launched our Capital Campaign at a community “Kick Off” celebration on October 4, 2015. Just ten months later, on August 4, 2016 we had reached our $2.5 M goal, and on October 26, 2016 we held an official groundbreaking ceremony on the site for the new facility. A community celebration followed at the Hamilton Ranch Round Barn.
Our 2017 Annual Event was held on August 23, again at the Hamilton Ranch Round Barn. The event was sold out in early May! During the evening festivities, Coralene Walsh gave the Foundation a $100,000 gift in memory of her husband, Bob Walsh. That gift put the Capital Campaign total over $3M. This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the incredible generosity and support of our community.
Thanks go out to our Capital Campaign Committee: John Benedict, Dan Doornbos, Dave Marsh, Les Gilman, Dale Giem, Dr. Terry Todd, and Ken Walsh; our past and present Foundation Board of Directors; our talented consulting staff: Chase Rose/Bannack Group and Nondi Harrington and especially to our countless, tireless, unnamed volunteers!
Our first Capital Campaign donors were Drs. Doug and Ellie Reedy, Dr. Terry and Julienne Todd and the Rumsfeld Family Foundation. Ruby Valley Hospital Employees also came on board to support our effort by signing up for the employee payroll deduction program. The Walsh Family gave us our first major gift of $250,000, to sponsor the Emergency Department. In the fall of 2015 the Ruby Valley Hospital Auxiliary in Sheridan, which is also a support organization for the hospital, donated $75,000 for the gift shop/lobby and entry way.
In November 2015, an out-of-state landowner made a challenge match of $250,000 with the understanding that these funds would be given to the Foundation if the Foundation generated another $250,000 by January 2016. Again, our community met the challenge and we were able to receive the $250,000! As time went on additional major gifts started to come to fruition. In February 2016, we received our largest major campaign gift of $500,000 from Jim Kennedy – The Trails End Foundation to sponsor the Physical Therapy Department.
Additionally, our facility project has been fortunate enough to have been recognized as a worthy recipient of competitive funding from 3 major, nationally ranked, external foundations:
- The Harry and Leona Helmsley Trust based in New York and South Dakota, awarded us a $400,000 grant to purchase a new 32 slice CT scanner, which will be installed in the new facility. The Helmsley Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S, and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives
- The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust based in Vancouver, Washington awarded us $184,000 to purchase radiology equipment for the new facility.
- A private Montana-based foundation awarded us $50,000 to purchase the Blood Chemistry Analyzer for the Lab, which is currently in use.
Trust Backed by Transparency
The Ruby Valley Hospital Foundation dba Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation in Sheridan, Montana is a private non-profit organization. Our primary purpose is to provide financial assistance and support for the Ruby Valley Hospital and Medical Center to purchase medical equipment and provide quality services and programs for our community members and visitors. Foundation Board members are nominated by the Foundation Board and approved by the Ruby Valley Hospital & Medical Center Board of Trustees.
Our current Foundation Board members include Les Gilman, President, Becky DeBoer, Vice President Billie Jo Rowberry, Secretary Treasurer, Nigel Pashley, M.D., Julienne Todd, and Ellie Reedy D.V.M. The Board is responsible to maintain governance and oversight of the Foundation’s finances, activities and events.
Ways to give are as many and varied as the people who give them. The Foundation provides a variety of giving opportunities from sponsorship/naming opportunities in the new facility, to planned giving opportunities and in-kind donations. We also have a menu of suggestions that can provide substantial tax advantages to the donors and their heirs while supporting one of our community’s most vital resources, your hospital. Fundraising is way more art than science it is about building, cultivating, and sustaining relationships, it is a mission-driven passion. The needs of our healthcare organization are going to be on-going. The Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation will be here today and tomorrow to sustain our hospital and help fund programs, services and medical equipment.
The Ruby Valley Healthcare Foundation is hosting a free Estate Planning Seminar presented by Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension Family Economics Specialist. Please bring your friends and family and join us on
- Tuesday, December 5, 2017,
- in the Philanthropy Building - Moraine Room, 120 South Main Street in Sheridan.
- A complimentary lunch and dessert will be provided at noon. The seminar is scheduled from 1:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.