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Vol. LXIV, No. 22
October 26, 2012
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Goal Is $2.2 Million
Collins, NIA Kick Off 2012 Combined Federal Campaign

On the front page...

Dr. Francis Collins kicks off CFC

Dr. Francis Collins kicks off CFC.

After two days of rain, the sun finally came out Oct. 4, along with several hundred NIH employees, to kick off this year’s NIH Combined Federal Campaign. Joined by representatives from some 40 charities, the crowd gathered under a tent in front of Bldg. 1 to focus on the official theme of the 3-month campaign—“Give Hope.”

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, an enthusiastic supporter of the CFC, said he couldn’t be more pleased with that theme. “We at NIH know a little something about hope because of your efforts in research, which bring hope to millions of people all over the world,” he said.

Collins also noted with pride NIH’s role year-after-year in this charitable endeavor. The CFC is the largest workplace-based charity in the world, the Department of Health and Human Services is the largest federal agency contributor to the CFC, and NIH, he emphasized, is the largest contributor within HHS. “So we are the center of the center of the center,” he said.

Continued...

The kick-off was hosted by the National Institute on Aging, which leads this year’s campaign at NIH. Its director, Dr. Richard Hodes, announced a fundraising goal of $2.2 million. “We are privileged to lead this year’s campaign,” he said, “particularly because NIH has a tradition of generosity.” That generosity, he expects, will allow NIH to meet and likely exceed its goal.

Emceed by NIA Director of Management Patrick Shirdon, the kick-off was a celebration of hope and charity. Along with speeches by Collins and Hodes, the event’s charity speaker was Dr. Mark Bergel, founder of A Wider Circle, an organization that not only fulfills direct needs by giving food, shelter and clothing, but also provides more integrated and sustained support through programs in stress management, financial planning and self-esteem.

Helping kick off the 2012 CFC were (from l) Dr. Marie Bernard, NIA deputy director; Patrick Shirdon, NIA director of management; Collins; NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes; and Dr. Mark Bergel, founder of A Wider Circle. A representative of the American Red Cross (l) shares material with visitors to her table.
Helping kick off the 2012 CFC were (from l) Dr. Marie Bernard, NIA deputy director; Patrick Shirdon, NIA director of management; Collins; NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes; and Dr. Mark Bergel, founder of A Wider Circle. A representative of the American Red Cross (l) shares material with visitors to her table.


In the decade since its founding, A Wider Circle has furnished the homes of more than 13,000 children and adults, delivered nearly 600 educational programs and recycled more than 1,500,000 pounds of furniture and home goods.

Bergel brought his message home when he asked the crowd to count off, every other person, leaving half the crowd standing and half sitting. The exercise dramatically demonstrated his point that one out every two children in the District of Columbia starts every school day at risk of hunger.

Singer-songwriter Owen Danoff entertains at the CFC kick-off.

Singer-songwriter Owen Danoff entertains at the CFC kick-off.

Photos: Ernie Branson

He illustrated how this might affect learning and future success: at one elementary school in Southeast Washington that Bergel recently visited, every third grade student received an “F” on a math assessment test and all were reading below grade level. Third grade reading and math are predictors of success in academics and beyond, he noted. To turn things around and provide hope, A Wider Circle has partnered with the school, offering group and individual tutoring to students. The goal? To bring all students up to third grade reading level by June 2013.

Bergel concluded with a sincere salute to NIH: “Nobody does the CFC like NIH—nobody!”

While he spoke, information tables of the dozens of charities were busy educating about their missions. Their message was consistent—giving just a few dollars on a regular basis can a make a huge difference in the lives of the people they serve.

The examples were compelling. David Chalfant, director of development at Whitman-Walker Health, provider of HIV/AIDS services in the Washington, D.C., area, pointed out how a few dollars per month can provide free medical services to those in need. “Whitman-Walker can give 11 of your neighbors free HIV tests for the equivalent of giving up one latte per week, for a year,” he said.

Also present was Hero Dogs, a 3-year-old organization that trains service dogs for veterans. Dependent on donations and volunteers, the organization says it costs about $30,000 and 2½ years to train the dogs. “We give the dogs to veterans at no charge because we feel they’ve given so much to their country,” said Ilene Glassman, a Hero Dogs board member.

She brought Maverick, a 2-year-old golden retriever, to the kick-off. Maverick is trained to open and close doors, wake up a veteran who might be suffering from a nightmare and fetch such items as keys, glasses and dropped credit cards. The dog can even lift grocery items from shelves into a shopping cart and retrieve clothes from the dryer. Currently, the organization is training 15 dogs.

2012 NIH campaign director Hodes announces this year’s fundraising goal of $2.2 million

Above, 2012 NIH campaign director Hodes announces this year’s fundraising goal of $2.2 million. Below, Bergel of A Wider Circle, declares, “Nobody does the CFC like NIH—nobody!”

Bergel of A Wider Circle, declares, “Nobody does the CFC like NIH—nobody

Throughout the program, the crowd was treated to the music of singer-songwriter Owen Danoff, the 2012 Strathmore artist in residence. A graduate of Berklee College of Music and a native Washingtonian, he performed a composition of his own, “Never Been Kissed,” and displayed guitar virtuosity throughout the program.

Collins, Hodes and Shirdon promised the crowd that they will be hearing more about the CFC in the coming weeks as the campaign moves into high gear. Several fun events at various NIH locations, hosted by individual institutes and centers, are planned.

For example, the Office of the NIH Director is leading this year’s Health and Human Services Combined Federal Campaign, and Collins invited the crowd to enter an HHS CFC “poetry” contest. The poem could focus on hope as the theme and he greatly encouraged writers to use meter and rhyme. It would also be helpful, he said, if the poem had several verses and even a “bridge.” The winner will be co-author of a song with Collins, who has volunteered to set the words to music and perform it.

At the heart of the campaign are hundreds of coordinators and keyworkers, many of whom attended this year’s kick-off. Many have repeated this role for several years. Janie Robak of the National Library of Medicine, who has been deputy coordinator for 3 years and a keyworker for 2 years, said she enjoys working on the CFC, “because I love giving back.”

You can join her in giving hope by giving to the campaign. Visit cfc.nih.gov to get the latest news on this year’s campaign and to donate, paperlessly, online.


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