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Published on October 18, 2022

Kirby Place at Walsh Family Village

How Avera’s Foundation of Giving Helps Patients

At its roots, the Avera health ministry is steeped in generosity.

Compassionate giving, from individuals and organizations, is vital to supporting the communities and people who come to Avera for care.

“Simply said, giving to health care allows people to give to peoples’ lives. It allows people to leave a legacy that will benefit generations to come,” said Dzenan Berberovic, Avera Chief Philanthropy Officer.

Health Care Philanthropy 101

The Avera Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the health system. Foundation projects support patients and their families in numerous areas, including cancer, hospice, behavioral health, children’s, employee assistance, long-term care and more.

“Generous individuals come alongside us to provide care that is above and beyond,” Berberovic said. “There are many programs that simply wouldn’t exist without philanthropy.

Those programs fall outside the realm of normal health care financing, yet play important roles, Berberovic added.

A few examples include Avera’s free wigs and the “New Look, Same You” program for cancer survivors. Art therapy experiences for patients and hospice suites where individuals at end of life can spend important time with their families are others.

Donors with concern provided 100% of the funding for Avera’s current Ask the Question suicide prevention campaign.

In 2020, Avera’s numerous hospital foundations centralized to form one Avera Foundation, resulting in higher giving per year, as well as an increased number of donors.

“While philanthropy is becoming a more daily part of our ministry, it comes back to one key factor: our employees,” said Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health. “Their dedication and the personal touch they bring to our patients – that’s a key reason for the success of our fundraising. They embody our mission.”

Sutton said Avera’s annual report shows just how vital community support can be for the health system he leads.

Connections Within Communities

Connections with communities and those in need go beyond accounting and ledgers.

Some key recent partnerships and efforts that are thriving include:

  • The 2022 Avera Race Against Cancer drew more than 5,000 participants from around the world. More than $600,000 was raised.
  • The Home for Hope Campaign enlisted help from more than 400 donors and will help thousands of families each year with affordable lodging at Kirby Place near Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.
  • A wide range of regional events, from Aberdeen to Yankton, continue to support families facing a wide range of illnesses including cancer.
  • The Light the Way Campaign is another note-worthy partnership, with more than $25 million in support in 18 months to help fund the addition at the Avera Behavioral Center.
  • A full remodel of Avera Brady Health & Rehab in Mitchell, SD, and the addition of hospice suites to the community through the Turning Moments into Memories Campaign.

The joining of hands to help began more than a century ago when the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters who founded Avera began to provide care with the help of the rural communities they sought to serve.

“The adage of many hands making the work lighter is true,” Berberovic said. “Avera is blessed with many contributors including individuals, families, organizations and businesses. Every gift, regardless of size, changes lives.”

Berberovic added that bringing the many gifts to culmination in community-serving actions is the best part of philanthropy.

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Ongoing Work Garners Attention

The Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) named the Avera Foundation among its “High Performer” honorees in the last year, indicating its work made it part of the top 25% of health care foundations and philanthropy offices throughout the United States and Canada.

“We have donors who are only 6 years old, and some in their 90s,” Berberovic said. “Each one is truly showing the best version of themselves. They want to make differences. They entrust us to create the greatest possible good. For that, we are grateful – and inspired.”

You can join Avera and support efforts that change lives.

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Moving Health Forward

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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