Published by Katherine Squires
Who doesn’t enjoy holding and snuggling a baby?!? They have that “smell”. That truly clean, angelic smell. And the softest skin EVER! We are fascinated with new life that is pure and innocent with countless experiences in front of their brand new life. However, one in ten babies are born premature in the state of Michigan1. There is one non-profit that is working diligently to change that number and making a difference in people’s lives. The March of Dimes.
At Equanimity Wealth Management (EWM), we strive to make a difference in people’s lives not only in the office, but also in the community. EWM has been a proud sponsor of the March of Dimes for many years. Recently, I met with Ginger Feldman, Executive Director of Market Development at the March of Dimes in Michigan. We sat and chatted about babies, the challenges of premature births, programs, and how the March of Dimes makes a difference in people’s lives.
How did you get involved with the March of Dimes?
“Well, I was a pharmaceutical rep for many years. In 2009, just as many other companies were struggling, the entire division that I was part of was dissolved. I was at a cross-roads with a degree in Public Relations from Western MI University and I wasn’t using it. I looked at my friends that were working for charities and thought ‘I can definitely do that’. 9 years later, here I am.”
Why did you want to work in the non-profit sector?
“I want to make a huge difference in people’s lives.”
What is your favorite part of working with the March of Dimes?
“The miracles! Seeing those that have struggled and are now thriving. They are the superheroes. Starting life with so many challenges and overcoming many of those challenges. I also love the generosity of the donors. It is always amazing when people give.”
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the March of Dimes?
“I think the biggest challenge is funding. We are still feeling the effects of the recession from 2009. Our income is down. Corporate giving has actually decreased so we struggle to find funding for programs. Without the programs, mothers and babies aren’t getting the support they need. We are looking to the future when we will be able to grow our programs. As you know, the opioid crisis continues to produce health problems not only for the mothers, but also for the babies. The March of Dimes is researching how they can enter this arena and bring an element of assistance to those in need.”
What is your favorite memory from your time at the March of Dimes?
“Well, I have two.
- The first one happened at my very first Signature Auction. I was asked to spearhead the Fund the Mission. This is the point in the auction that people donate money without bidding on items. It is purely to fund the mission. I was at a loss of how people were going to actually just give us money. So, we played the video of a family’s story. It was very emotional. After it ended the auctioneer said, “Ok, who will give me $5,000?!” and four or five cards flew up in the air. Then the auctioneer says, “Great! Now who will give me $2,500?!” then another set of cards go up. This goes on and on and we ended up raising $50,000 in that ten minutes! I was blown away by the generosity in the room that night. The generosity in our state is humbling.
- The second story is my funniest memory. One year, a board member contacted Orange County Choppers and had a bike built that we would raffle off at a Signature Chef Auction. The committee decided that the whole room should be decorated in chrome. Being a non-profit, decoration budgets are often on a shoe string and this year was no different and as the director, you do whatever is needed to be done. I called the local Harley Davidson dealership and asked if they had any scrap pieces that they would be willing to part with. They told me that they had a whole dumpster full and I was welcome to take whatever I wanted. SO, one Saturday morning, I enlisted the help of my dad. We went to the dealership and I found myself digging through the dumpster for anything shiny. I was literally dumpster diving for the March of Dimes. We gathered enough chrome to decorate 74 tables and they looked great!”
You’ve talked about the Signature Chef Auctions, tell me about them.
“Our Signature Chef Auctions are the largest fund raising events. They are usually in the month of November coinciding with Prematurity Awareness Month. Local restaurants prepare food and all evening, people can sample it. We have a contest to see which restaurant has the best samplings. We have Silent Auctions for gift baskets and at the end of the evening, we auction off dinners from each of the participating restaurants.”
Are there other fund raiser throughout the year?
“We see a lot of groups choose us as their non-profit each year. These groups are usually church groups, school groups or fraternities that do fund raising every year. They may choose to do a walk or dinner to raise money for us. They plan much of the event. We also can do restricted giving, where donations can be made to a specific demographic, need or program. Donors really like this because they can choose where the money will go. And we take donations all year long through our website ( https://www.marchofdimes.org/giving/support-monthly-default.aspx?utm_source=marchofdimes&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=general-2019&utm_content=header-donate&DonationTrackingParam1=header-donate ).”
What are some of the programs that March of Dimes has put in place in the state of Michigan?
“Well, one in ten babies are born premature in the state of Michigan and one in three in the city of Detroit. We have many areas of the state that are considered “Maternal Deserts”. These are areas where maternal patients don’t have easy, close access to health care. We have installed tele-medicine in these areas. There is generally a nurse practitioner onsite, but then they tele-conference in to one of the larger hospitals in the state and the doctor, nurse and mother can all talk with each other. This was installed in 2015 and has been a huge help for those in remote areas of our state.”
If people are interested in getting involved, how can they do that?
“There are really three ways individuals can get involved:
- Look for community based events in their area. The dinners, walks, etc.
- Advocacy Efforts – http://actioncenter.marchofdimes.org/
- Ambassador Program – we are always looking for families that have used our services. So many times, the moms and dads of a premature baby need someone to listen. Having people that have had the same or similar experiences can help to take away some of that stress.
If a company wants to get involved and make a difference in people’s lives,we have the free Healthy Babies Healthy Business program. This is an excellent resources that businesses can share with their employees. There are live webinars, articles and videos, a community forum where women can ask questions and share experiences, engaging activities and it’s all customized to the business. If the business chooses, they can add company specific content and resources. If a business owner is interested, they can go to www.marchofdimes.com/hbhb.”
I’ve known for many years that the March of Dimes does a lot to fight for the health of all moms and babies. After sitting down with Ginger, I have a whole new appreciation for all that they do for the moms and babies in our state. They want to make a difference in people’s lives and it shows in everything that they do. If you want to join EWM and get involved, go to www.marchofdimes.org. If you want to give and are over 70½, you may be able to donate tax free. Check out our blog on Qualified Charitable Donations (https://equanimity1.wpengine.com/insights/blog/senior-citizen-discount-for-taxes/) or give us a call.
1 March of Dimes 2018 Premature Birth Report Card, www.marchofdimes.org/reportcard
The charitable entities and/or fundraising opportunities described herein are not en-dorsed by or affiliated with Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC or its affiliates. Our philanthropic interests are personal to us and are not reviewed, sponsored or approved by Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC.