Youthful givers inspire hope for bright future

July 7, 2020

As we work together as a community to recover and remain safe during this new phase of COVID-19, it is natural for all of us to take a few moments to reflect on the many emotions and experiences we have had during a time of high stress, anxiety and uncertainty. As president of Beebe Medical Foundation, I felt the one emotion that seemed to be the strongest amongst our fundraising team was being overwhelmed at times. Fortunately for the foundation team, unlike our colleagues in the clinical world, we were overwhelmed in a good way with a surge of generosity from our community reaching out, wanting to help support and give to ensure the safety and wellness of everyone. We received more than $2.1 million in gifts to our COVID-19 Relief Fund, and thousands of materials, supplies and masks were donated for our Beebe Heroes. All gifts were appreciated, and all gifts helped us remain strong and vigilant to fight. It was inspiring to all of us to know that our community was grateful for all those who serve at Beebe Healthcare.

Looking back, there were two gifts that especially inspired me. Both gifts were given by children in our community who were empowered to contribute in their own way to make a difference. The first gift came in a handwritten letter I received from Cameron Lee, who said, “Enclosed is $7.25, a little gift from me to help the hospital during this time of COVID. I know things are tough and I wanted to give this to keep the doctors and nurses safe.” This letter and gift came during one of our more stressful times at the hospital, and I shared the letter at the beginning of an executive leadership meeting to remind us that we are all in it together, and every act of kindness, no matter what size, is always appreciated and important. The other gift that inspired me was from Niikai, age 9, and his sister Summer, age 6, who decided to design T-shirts and sell them to family members and friends to raise monies for the COVID-19 Relief Fund. They sold more than 50 shirts.

I reached out to these young philanthropists and invited them to come to meet Dr. David A. Tam, president and CEO of Beebe Healthcare, and me at Beebe Medical Foundation, the historic home of Dr. Richard Beebe. Cameron, sitting in Dr. Beebe’s historic chair in the foundation dining room, said, “I made a gift because I wanted to help. I could have stayed at home and done nothing and played video games, but I wanted to do my part.” Niikai and Summer shared, “It made us feel good to be able to help.” As Dr. Tam and I shared wonderful conversations with our young givers, it became very evident that their parents taught them the importance of service to the community. As they have learned the important value of giving, they will, as our future leaders, become the stewards of our community. The sense of pride and accomplishment that exuded from each of them during our conversations was evident.

These young philanthropists inspired two presidents that day, and we asked them to stay in touch with us to help us continue to make Beebe stronger as together we build the next generation of care. Amidst all the chaos of a pandemic, amidst all the violence and protests in our country, both Dr. Tam and I were overwhelmed with a sense of peace that we are in good hands with our young people. As we finished spending our time with Cameron, Niikai, and Summer, I gazed upon the foundation fireplace mantel and saw the plaque with the quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Once again, I was overwhelmed and relieved to know that Cameron, Niikai, and Summer are inspiring others, and leading the way for others to follow their example of giving.

As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of the community it serves. To make a gift to celebrate the excellent care you or a loved one has received, visit Beebe Medical Foundation at or call 302-644-2900.


Thomas J. Protack is president of Beebe Medical Foundation.

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