GARY | Behind the mission statement, meetings and paperwork, a touch of Disney magic lies within the Methodist Hospitals Foundation.
Alongside experience in health care and fundraising on his resume, Executive Director Robert Hanrahan III lists time as a Disney cast member.
His stint there is evident in the galas the foundation hosted in its two years. A Mardi Gras party featured stilt walkers, lamp posts made of balloons and faux windows that masked bare banquet hall walls.
Fundraising is about storytelling, getting people to believe that their donations, no matter the size, will have an effect on someone's life, Hanrahan said.
Hanrahan, who grew up in Highland and graduated from Hammond's Bishop Noll Institute in 1972, was hired as executive director of the foundation in 2010.
"It's a way of giving back to a community that was so good to me when I was here," Hanrahan said.
Because he was starting from the ground up, Hanrahan interviewed community stakeholders to gauge interest and let them know about the foundation formation.
Then he launched an internal campaign called The First 100 Initiative, a reference to the first financial gifts of $100 that 20 doctors donated about 100 years ago to open Methodist Hospital in Gary.
The goal is to recognize the first 100 gifts at each giving level by acknowledging the donors as members of the Founders Society. Those who donate $5,000 or more will be named charter members of the Founders Society.
The foundation received 32 gifts in 2010 and 365 last year and expects to double that this year, Hanrahan said.
The mission of The Methodist Hospitals Foundation is to support patients through projects and programs there.
The foundation works with Methodist Hospitals leaders to help fund items or programs at risk of being cut during the budgeting process. Its first gift was a $30,000 donation to buy baby bassinets.
Hanrahan assembled a cadre of volunteers from hospital employees. The interest was there, but, before Hanrahan, there was no one harnessing that pool of assistance.
Teri McCormick, manager of physician services at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary, said Hanrahan brought morale from good to great in a year.
"Rob brought fun back," she said.
McCormick was crowned queen at the foundation's first Mardi Gras. But, even if she hadn't, she still would serve the foundation, she said.
The foundation carries the spirit of Mardi Gras year-round, with employees divided into "krewes" that focus on specific areas, such as hospitality and philanthropy.
Courtesy of The Times.