Above and Beyond Campaign Begins in September: Q&A with Robbie Johnson and Jenny Prascher Nevels

Robbie Johnson and Jenny Nevels

The Above and Beyond campaign kicks off next month to help support the important work of the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation, which assists communities throughout the Mid-South, employees in need of emergency assistance, and hospitals and patients in the Baptist system.

To learn what’s new with the Above and Beyond campaign this year and more about how funds are used, we talked with Robbie Johnson, vice president and chief development officer, and Jenny Prascher Nevels, executive director of the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation.

NEA Baptist and Mississippi Baptist Medical Center will host their own campaigns at a later date, and team members will have an opportunity to support them at that time.

What does the Baptist Memorial Health Care Foundation do?

Jenny Prascher Nevels: We are the charitable entity for the health care system, so it’s our job to raise funds, manage funds and see that they are directed for their intended purpose: to meet the charitable mission of the organization. We work with each entity to determine their needs and how we can benefit them.

Robbie Johnson: As a Foundation, our job is to work with internal and external donors to extend the great care our providers give to our communities.

What is the Above and Beyond campaign, and how has it changed this year?

Robbie Johnson: The Above and Beyond campaign is a great way to educate team members on the tremendous work the Foundation and local hospitals do to give back to their communities or help meet patient needs.

We’ve moved the campaign this year from July to September, and we’re providing opportunities for our employees to give locally, to support the work that a specific hospital does for its community. We’d like team members to give where they feel pulled to give.

The contribution forms this year are entity specific, so team members can select exactly where they want their contribution to go. We want employees to support where their heart is invested, whether it is a systemwide program like Friends of Nursing, or it’s a local entity fund.

How can team members contribute?

Robbie Johnson: This year, we’re encouraging team members to consider making a gift of one hour of pay per pay period. Those who give at that level will receive a T-shirt as a thank you gift.

We would love any gift, whatever size. You can donate PTO, and that’s converted into a cash gift, which goes back to the Foundation, and it is tax deductible, just as other types of donations. Team members can also give with Venmo or credit card as a one-time or recurring contribution.

How are the funds used?

Robbie Johnson: These funds are used to partner with the local hospitals to meet the needs of their patients, employees and communities. The Foundation also supports patient care at the Baptist Cancer Center, clinical research, equipment for hospitals and scholarships for students at Baptist Health Sciences University.

We have some system initiatives, like the Baptist Centers for Good Grief, which is a way that we give back to our communities. There’s a location at NEA in Jonesboro and in Memphis and Collierville, but thanks to teletherapy, we can now offer free grief services to people all over Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri. So, the campaign is a way that employees can connect to an initiative like this, which is a tremendous signature project to help grieving people throughout the Mid-South.

Why do you think it is important to offer these grief services free of charge?

Jenny Prascher Nevels: Providing the services free of charge is an equalizer that allows anyone to receive help. Normal grief is not a mental health diagnosis, and a diagnosis is needed when using medical insurance. Typically, when someone’s grieving, they’re not clinically depressed. They are depressed because they’re in the grieving process, and there is a difference. Those who are grieving may not want that information in their medical record, so providing these free services makes getting help with grieving more accessible.

Robbie Johnson: If the young kids who are expressing anger as part of their grief process don’t have the tools to deal with it and somebody to partner with them, that anger can cause significant issues as they become teens and adults. Hopefully, through the Centers for Good Grief, we can help those kids process, understand, cope with, and begin to process and deal with their grief.

Why is employee giving important?

Jenny Prascher Nevels: Baptist team members are the ones who see the needs while on the front lines. Giving allows us to be a part of supporting the communities where we live and providing solutions to help meet needs. And when we apply for external grants to support the Foundation, our employee giving is an impressive statistic to provide. We appreciate everyone’s generosity and willingness to partner with us. We could not do what we do without our donors.