A gift that keeps giving

Eileen and Jerry Fhaner consider themselves as fortunate. And they have always looked for ways to share their blessings, such as quietly contributing financially to the efforts of local services and non-profits. Additionally, Eileen has served on many non-profit boards and been active in supporting her local church.

The Fhaners have always appreciated having a resource like HGB “in their backyard.” Eileen recently joined the hospital’s Board of Trustees and also approached Barbara Fulton, P.H.D., HGB director of community development, about how they could contribute in a way that would have the broadest impact.

“We love having HGB in our small community,” Eileen and Jerry said. “We don’t want to  have to drive to Lansing; we want to come here. And we want to be able to help the hospital continue going in the right direction.”

Eileen and Jerry reside in Charlotte, Mich., and have been Eaton County residents all their lives. They lead healthy, active lifestyles, but when a routine physical resulted in the need for additional tests, the Fhaners were grateful to have HGB’s resources nearby. They attribute Dr. Robert Leeser, retired HGB chief medical officer, with discovering Jerry’s lymphoma in its earliest stages.

“It’s physicians like that at HGB, like Dr. Robert Leeser, who pay attention to their patients and get to know them personally. They aren’t overloaded, and that can make such a difference,” Jerry and Eileen said.

The Fhaners want to help support those kinds of resources to ensure they stay within their community. Barbara and Eileen concluded the Fhaners would have the most impact if their contribution went toward HGB’s endowment fund.

Eileen was familiar with the benefits of an endowment fund based on her service with the board of Eaton County Community Foundation. She had also started an endowment at her local community church. She liked the idea of supporting an endowment at HGB because it’s the “gift that keeps on giving.”

“The money put into an endowment stays with the fund and the interest earned supports the mission of the organization,” Eileen said. “I like the perpetuity of the endowment.”

Because of the operating expenses a non-profit organization has, it doesn’t always have the extra funds to get everything it needs. An endowment can support it for years to come and the interest earned can help create special programs to benefit the organization.

The principal in HGB’s endowment fund isn’t yet large enough to generate the amount of interest needed to build such programs now. But when it does, Barbara said the money can be used toward things like purchasing equipment, expanding services and meeting operational needs.

Jerry and Eileen strongly believe being part of a smaller community is a blessing. The connections that develop within the close-knit neighborhoods and business district create a give-and-take relationship with local residents and services and businesses.

“If we pay attention to what’s happening around us, we can see those connections and hear stories about collaboration,” Eileen said. “Those connections and relationships mean something on a personal level, and  inspire and touch our hearts in ways that give us all something to believe in and support.”

The Fhaners believe so much more can be accomplished if everyone made it a priority to give within their local communities.

“It doesn’t matter how small or large the gift,” Eileen said. “Any amount given in support of a local service or resource can have a big impact. And in a small community you can see how your efforts and support make a difference, and even benefit from your investment.”

“It’s the hometown, personal touch. It means more. There are wonderful people, services and technology available at HGB. We want to see that continue for a long time to come,” Jerry and Eileen said.