MTSU Interim Provost Mark Byrnes choked up as he shared how the MTSU Employee Charitable Giving Campaign had personally helped his family several years ago.
His daughter, Abby, just shy of her fourth birthday at the time, suffered a major stroke following complications from an E. coli infection one summer, eventually requiring ongoing specialized care from local Christian-based nonprofit, Special Kids Therapy and Nursing Center.
“We really quickly went from people who gave a little bit of extra money to charity to people who needed help. … It wasn’t theoretical anymore, it was real,” Byrnes told the crowd of university leaders gathered at the Student Union Building for the recent kickoff for the annual charitable giving campaign.
While noting an abundance of help from relatives, their church and others, Byrnes emphasized that such support couldn’t substitute for the institutional help his family needed from organizations such as Special Kids to help Abby. Now 15 and almost as tall as he is, Abby enjoys a better quality of life because of that support, he said.
“At the drop of a hat, our lives can change,” Byrnes reminded the crowd. “Thanks for the giving you’ve done, but I urge you to join me in giving again this year.”
With a goal of $120,000 in pledges and a theme of “Shine the Light on Giving,” the University is conducting the annual campaign through Nov. 1, with the ultimate goal of helping a host of area nonprofits fulfill their missions of providing a variety of services to those in the community in need.
“With just over 2,200 employees here at MTSU, this goal can be easily attained if each employee pledged $55 per year,” said Dr. Gloria Bonner, campaign chair and assistant to the president in the Office of Community Engagement. “That's just $4.55 per month.”
The payroll deduction option is again available and “is a very cost effective way of making your gift,” noted Bonner, who also reminds 2016 donors that their contribution doesn’t automatically roll over into the new year, so a new pledge form must be filled out. Donations can be made online at http://www.mtsu.edu/givemtsu/, where employees can also find campaign brochures and updates.
Speaking at the kickoff, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee again urged the deans, department chairs, top administrators and campus leaders in attendance to set an example for their staffs and “raise the bar on giving.” Last year’s campaign raised $118,000.
“Even though we are in a region, that economically, is one of the most prosperous regions in the country in terms of economic growth, there’s still “a tremendous amount of need across the board for members of this community,” McPhee said. “We really need to find a way to step up.”
University colleges will again have the extra incentive of trying to wrestle the Provost Cup from the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, which had just over 80 percent of employees participate last year. The college is seeking to win the cup for the fourth year in a row for having the highest rate of employee participation.
With the shiny Provost Cup again in hand at this year’s kickoff, Jones College Dean David Urban shared a story of being involved with United Way a few years ago to help children in need with back-to-school clothes. While helping a young boy find the right sized shoes to purchase, Urban said his daughter, who he brought along to help, realized that the boy had never had a pair of shoes that fit properly.
“People who need our help are all around us,” he said.
Prizes throughout the month will include drawings for luggage and parking passes, with McPhee sweetening the incentive to give at the kickoff event by offering a reception at President’s House and club level passes for athletic event and five tickets midcourt hoops games for divisions or colleges achieving 90 percent participation.
MTSU alumna Meagan Flippin, president and CEO of United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, shared how a program through her organization was able to help an MTSU student with emergency funds to pay a utility bill and buy clothing for her kids while she cared for her son, who needed a bone marrow transplant.
“Giving is really a lifestyle,” Flippin said. “Giving should really be who you are and not just an act that you do.”
Anyone with questions about this year’s Employee Charitable Giving Campaign should contact Allison McGoffin in the Office of the Provost at 898-2953.