When Wiley “Chip” Souba, dean of the Geisel School of Medicine, announced the Dartmouth Campaign for Granite United Way’s goal of raising $300,000 and adding 100 new donors this year, he got some immediate help from his co-chair, Gail Gentes, director of action-based learning at Dartmouth.
“This year we have ambitious goals,” said Gentes, who is married to President Phil Hanlon ’77. “But I can say we have at least two new contributors because my husband and I will be donating.”
Souba and Gentes hosted an October 1 kickoff breakfast for campaign coordinators at the Hanover Inn, where the volunteers picked up donation packets to distribute to Dartmouth faculty and staff.
“I’m excited about the medical school and Dartmouth stepping up this year,” Souba said. “After all, Dartmouth is made better when we strengthen the communities we’re privileged to live and work in.”
About 60 volunteers from across the College heard about the ongoing work of the United Way from Dana Hanson, development director of Granite United Way, and from Peggy O’Neil, executive director at WISE, an advocacy and crisis services center that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence. WISE is one of dozens of Upper Valley organizations supported by Granite United Way.
O’Neil read a thank-you letter from a client who first encountered a WISE coordinator in the emergency room of an area hospital. The client, with her two young daughters in tow, had rushed herself to the hospital after an incident of domestic violence.
“My girls and I thank you. We are doing well and will never forget you,” O’Neil read from the letter.
United Way donations “help us to make sure all these critical programs are available to everyone,” O’Neil told the volunteers.
Gentes recognized O’Neil and urged coordinators to take to heart how important programs like WISE are to the community. “Multiply this impact by many factors and you see how, by working together, we can all benefit by standing united.”
Souba also introduced a video featuring medical school students who are involved with Granite United Way. Geisel student Marie Onakomaiya, who was featured in the video, has volunteered at the Upper Valley Haven for several years, donates to the United Way, and has served on the Granite United Way Grants Review Committee.
“There are so many organizations in our community supported by a grant from United Way who do a lot of good work, but they really do need not only volunteers but monetary contributions,” Onakomaiya says in the video. “It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. … The little donations add up and make a big difference in improving lives right here in our backyard.”
The United Way program in the Upper Valley was started at Dartmouth in 1973, when the first campaign was launched by the Rev. John Mitman of the Tucker Foundation. Dartmouth has continually worked with the United Way to bring positive changes to the Upper Valley.
On Friday and Saturday, October 4 and 5, Dartmouth and the United Way are sponsoring a Day of Caring, in which many Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff spend a day volunteering around the Upper Valley.
Over the next week, department coordinators will distribute the pledge packets to Dartmouth faculty and staff. As in years past, participants will have the option to give through payroll deductions or a onetime donation by filling out their pledge form or by donating online. Coordinators are charged with making sure all Dartmouth employees receive the pledge packet and any information they need to make a decision, but all donations are private and confidential.