Hospital News

Nora Roberts Foundation donates $9,000 to WMHS Foundation’s Healthcare Heroes campaign


CUMBERLAND, Md. –  It all started with a surprise call out of nowhere on the Thursday before Easter. The Nora Roberts Foundation – founded by the Maryland-based New York Times bestselling fiction writer – wanted to make a gift to support UPMC Western Maryland.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when the phone rang,” said Lisa Hout, senior development officer for the WMHS Foundation. “We were focused on launching the Health Care Heroes Fund, and I had no idea that this unsolicited phone call would jumpstart our campaign.”

Lisa explained to Kat Pong, vice president of operations for the Nora Roberts Foundation, how the WMHS Foundation was responding to the COVID-19 crisis in Western Maryland. “To honor frontline healthcare workers at UPMC Western Maryland and all the many staff who support them, the Foundation is partnering with the community to supply $100 gift cards for groceries for these hometown heroes and save them one more stop and potential exposure at the end of a long day. Some will access these funds through an onsite micro-mart, others through curbside pickup at a local grocery store, but all employees of UPMC Western Maryland will receive the benefit.”

Kat was impressed with the coordinated effort already underway. At the close of their conversation, she casually mentioned they would be sending a check for $9,000 – a generous start to an initiative that is providing many with a way to give back. Today, the fund has more than quadrupled.

Lisa choked up at the mention of this generous offering. “I am always humbled by the ways and the reasons that people choose to give,” she said. In turn, Kat was moved by this opportunity to make a difference.

To date, the Nora Roberts Foundation has granted more than $800,000 to hospitals across Maryland and D.C. during this pandemic, beyond their ongoing commitment to funding literacy initiatives.

“We’re grateful beyond words to the hospital workers, the doctors, nurses, specialists, cooks, cleaners, maintenance workers, and all those who show up every day, despite the risks,” writes the Nora Roberts Foundation Board. “We’re humbled by your willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way – to care for the sick, to save lives, and to be witness to the final moments of those who can’t be saved. You’re more than heroes, more than the frontline. You’re children, siblings, parents, and friends. You’re human, and you, individually, matter.  We hope our contribution to the WMHS Foundation Healthcare Heroes Fund, and to other hospitals in Maryland and D.C., helps you know how much we care, how much your community cares, and how much we value you.”

Karen Johnson, chief development officer and executive director of the WMHS Foundation, trusts that this generous gift will spur others to give. “We’re finding heroes in unexpected places,” said Karen. “Our partners across the community are calling out the courageous by name as they engage with this campaign, and the encouragement they bring is the silver lining in an otherwise dark time. Hope is rising up, and we are proud of our donors and so touched by the healthcare workers they choose to honor.” She invites our UPMC Western Maryland family to follow the campaign on the WMHS Foundation Facebook page for a complete list of testimonials. “So much of what we do is not orchestrated,” she said. “It just falls into place at the right time.”