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Vol. LXI, No. 21
October 16, 2009
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Off to Strong Start
For CFC Donors, Mission, Personal Connection Are Key


NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and his wife Diane Baker encouraged NIH staff to donate to the CFC.
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and his wife Diane Baker encouraged NIH staff to donate to the CFC.

NIH’s annual Combined Federal Campaign kicked off on a windy Oct. 1 with a jazz band, food, guest speakers and dozens of charities eager to share their stories with NIH givers.

“I probably don’t need to tell you just how great the need is this year,” said emcee Doreen Gentzler, NBC News-4’s anchor and science reporter. “Charities are struggling every day.”

Gentzler’s only struggle during the kickoff was attempting to keep all the government alphabetical references straight. While introducing Dr. Jack Jones, the campaign’s spokesman, Gentzler identified him as the head of CIT, the CIO of NIH and vice chair of CFC.

“This is a lot of letters,” she told the audience. “I know you all are following this, but if I were reading this on the news, I would go back to rewrite.”

Minutes later at the podium, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins reminded the crowd filling the plaza between Bldgs. 31 and 33 that NIH, alphabet soup and all, is an inspiring and fortunate place.

“We are very lucky we get to work in a place where we have a goal we can believe in,” he said. “These days, there are many people who don’t have a job at all. Thank you for using your generosity in this way.”

On hand at the CFC kickoff Oct. 1 were (from l) CIT’s Kathryn Wimsatt, NBC-TV anchor Doreen Gentzler, CIT director Jack F. Jones and Jennifer Czajkowski, also of CIT, which is the lead IC in this year’s effort.  
On hand at the CFC kickoff Oct. 1 were (from l) CIT’s Kathryn Wimsatt, NBC-TV anchor Doreen Gentzler, CIT director Jack F. Jones and Jennifer Czajkowski, also of CIT, which is the lead IC in this year’s effort.  
This year’s goal is $2.2 million, 10 percent more than last year. That figure may sound steep, but NIH contributed nearly $2.5 million last year, giving almost half of the total $5 million donated to the CFC by the entire Department of Health and Human Services.

That’s welcome news for charities such as the Surfrider Foundation that works to clean up waterways; the Black Student Fund, whose efforts promote quality learning environments and support education services; A Wider Circle, which strives to furnish homes for impoverished families; and the Washington Animal Rescue League, whose treasurer Susie Brown was accompanied to the kickoff by Grace, a German shepherd-border collie mix who was once a shelter dog. Other nonprofits familiar to NIH’ers such as the Children’s Inn, Camp Fantastic, Friends of the Clinical Center and the Foundation for NIH also handed out information and reminded visitors that help is always needed.

One charity didn’t have to sell its cause to Florine Coleman of NLM. She already knew the group well.

Collins and Gentzler pause for a photo at the Oct. 1 kickoff.  
Collins and Gentzler pause for a photo at the Oct. 1 kickoff.  

“You saved my niece’s life,” she told Angel Flight transportation coordinator Marita Eddy. Coleman recounted the scary moment 2 years ago when her family’s local medical care couldn’t stabilize the deteriorating condition of her niece Alicia, and the child had to be rushed to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.

“We couldn’t drive her there in her condition. Without Angel Flight, she wouldn’t have made it there. She would have lost her life.”

Coleman’s niece has returned to school full-time and is getting her life back to normal.

“It’s that personal connection that means so much to me,” Coleman said. “That’s where my pledge is going this year, 100 percent.” NIHRecord Icon

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