The White Rose Giving Circle: The Power of Compassionate Women United

By Alicia Wotring Sisk

A $500 gift to Sentara RMH Medical Center is no small matter, but imagine what you could do if you multiplied that gift by 50.

That’s what the White Rose Giving Circle, a group of local philanthropic women, does every year to benefit the hospital. Their individual gifts, united, add up to a big difference. Since the group was founded in 2008, it has given more than $361,000 to benefit the hospital and, by extension, the community.

The White Rose

The White Rose Giving Circle is an all-woman philanthropic group that meets four times a year. Each member contributes at least $500 annually and each one gets to vote on how the total amount is used.

“We provide things that are not in the budget of the hospital,” explains Nancy Bradfield of Bridgewater, a founding member of the group. “For example, if there’s a department that perhaps submitted a budget item and didn’t get their request, or something that’s a minor purchase that would make their work a lot easier.”

Each department is invited to submit a proposal, and a committee narrows the number of proposals down to a select few for consideration by the full membership. The finalists are invited to give a short presentation on what they are asking for and why, and then the women vote.

“We spend almost every penny,” Bradfield says.
Making a Difference in the Hospital and Community

In its twelve years, the group has given equipment and supported projects and programs to benefit the hospital.

One item was a GlideScope for the Labor and Delivery unit. This device allows for quick intubation, the insertion of tubes into the body for giving or removing fluids. The hospital had two GlideScopes in the operating rooms, but none specifically for use during C-sections. Purchasing one for Labor and Delivery meant medical staff could respond much faster in an emergency.

Another White Rose gift funded software, a printer, and a fax machine for the Medical Assistance Program, which helps patients get low-cost or free medication from pharmaceutical companies, Bradfield says.

One of the group’s 2013 gifts was an AccuVein system for the Emergency Department. Sentara RMH had just one AccuVein system for use throughout the entire hospital. But, according to the proposal submitted to the White Rose, venipuncture is the most frequently performed invasive procedure in the Emergency Department, so it made sense to have one specifically for use there.

The device uses infrared technology to show on the skin’s surface the location of veins underneath. The device benefits patients, the nursing staff, and the hospital, says Paula Neher, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department who submitted the proposal.

“It’s better for both the patient and the staff if we can get our IVs on the first try,” Neher explains. “Every additional time we have to attempt either an IV or a lab stick, we’re risking infection, it’s obviously more painful and stressful for the patient, and it uses supplies, so it costs more money every time we do it.”

The AccuVein provides a training benefit, too. The Emergency Department tends to attract young, energetic nurses, Neher says, but that also means they have less experience with starting IVs and drawing blood. Using the AccuVein system, which lets nurses see where veins are located, they can get better accustomed to feeling for a vein.

“It’s one way we improve their efficiency,” Neher says. She adds that she’s grateful to the White Rose Giving Circle for making the device available to the ED.

“I had no idea this group existed, but these ladies are wonderful,” she says. “I love the idea that they pull it together to make big things happen.”
Creative, Compassionate Women

The White Rose Giving Circle is a unique way to make a contribution, says Sherrill Glanzer, development officer for the RMH Foundation.

“A lot of people can make a $500 gift, and that’s a significant amount of money, but when many of these gifts are combined, all at once you have a really significant gift that’s going to make a significant difference at RMH,” she says.

The fact that it’s all women is another part of what makes the group unique and appealing, says Bradfield. Bradfield’s husband, Chester, served for years as treasurer on the RMH Board of Directors, and Bradfield liked the idea of making a contribution in her own way.

“It was intriguing because it was a group of ladies doing something special,” Bradfield says. “And it didn’t require a lot of meetings. Women can be very efficient.”

The effectiveness of the White Rose Giving Circle shows that you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to make a big difference, Glanzer says. And the group appeals to women’s interest in collaboration, creativity, and compassion.

“You have philanthropic women who are really passionate, really bright, and who really want to make a difference,” Glanzer says. “You put all that together and the White Rose becomes a really important and significant group that benefits RMH.”

For more information about the White Rose Giving Circle and how to join, call (540) 689.8542.