Organizations: Women In Philanthropy
As the fundraising arm of the not-for-profit WellStar Health System, the WellStar Foundation is dedicated to helping people get well, stay well and live well.
Now, the volunteer-driven organization has launched Women in Philanthropy, a giving society that provides a voice for women looking to improve healthcare in their communities. For Dianne Weeks, director of development for the WellStar Foundation, it just made sense.
“Women make most of the decisions in the family as far as healthcare,” she says. “They’re the ones who get the kids to the doctor or the husband to the doctor for his physical.”
In its first year, more than 50 women have joined the organization. To participate, members must donate $1,000 a year. The group then collectively decides where those funds will be directed.
So far, Women in Philanthropy has supported initiatives ranging from community education and genetic testing for cancer to infant intensive care and bereavement support.
The first initiative the group helped fund was a new genetic risk assessment program that informs women who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer if they are at high risk for these diseases.
“So many women who come to the clinic can’t afford the test, so we set up a scholarship. We have helped so many women take the test who otherwise would not have been able to, and in many cases, they have found out that they were at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer,” says Weeks, who adds that counselors then work with patients to lower their risk.
This year, the group will support the annual one-day Speaking of Women’s Health conference, which provides up-to-date information from experts so women can better care for themselves and their families. It also assessed needs at WellStar’s five hospitals, located across the northwest Metro Atlanta area.
One item on the list was the Giraffe OmniBed, a cutting-edge of incubator for intensively ill infants. “It’s a needed thing at Kennestone, and it was not in the budget to fund it,” she says. “So they decided that they wanted to do something for those NICU babies.”
The group will also help support bereavement funds at both Ken-nestone and Cobb hospitals, which provide resources for parents who experience the loss of children through miscarriage or delivery.
“It’s wonderful that here we have a bunch of women who are community minded. They want to do something to make an impact,” Weeks says. “We’re really excited about it.”