The Grateful Bennington Fund Shatters $500,000 Goal
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: NEWS, 2021

The Grateful Bennington Fund Shatters $500,000 Goal

Community answers call to support Southwestern Vermont Health Care’s effort to restore former campus.

BENNINGTON, VT—March 4, 2021—At a press conference this afternoon, Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) President and CEO Thomas A. Dee, FACHE, thanked two influential community members, David Newell and Michael McKenna, both of Bennington, for leading a community-driven fundraising effort known as The Grateful Bennington Fund. The fund’s aim was to raise $500,000 to support the health system’s acquisition and sustainability plan for the former Southern Vermont College (SVC) property. The fund shattered its ambitious goal in the month of February by raising more than $566,000 in donations during that time.

SVHC, the parent company of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), acquired the former SVC campus in December.

“[Purchasing the property] was not an easy process,” said Dee. “It was a heavy lift for us, but it was the right thing to do, and the SVHC Board of Trustees had the foresight to make the decision to pursue the acquisition of this very important community asset.”

Dee also thanked Catamount Access Television, Matt Harrington at the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and the Bennington Banner for helping support the campaign.

Newell is a commercial lines risk management consultant with the Richards Group in Bennington. He was a founding member of the SVHC Foundation, its chair from 2011 – 2015, and a member until 2017. He currently serves the foundation as Director Emeritus. He was a member of the SVC Board of Trustees when the college’s trustees voted to close. Newell is a member of  many local organizations, including the Bennington Rotary, the Bennington Free Library, and the Prospect Mountain Association. 

“We were extremely encouraged and humbled, really, by the outstanding community support we received,” Newell said, while also noting the many positive remarks that came in with donations and in letters to the editor.

McKenna is a financial advisor at D.B. McKenna and Co. in Bennington. He serves on the SVHC Foundation Board and the board of the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Catamount Rotary. 

“The groundswell of support from the community has been absolutely tremendous,” McKenna said. “It was an exciting 28 days.”

McKenna reported that 450 donors contributed. Nearly 80 percent of donors were from Bennington. Gifts ranged from $5 - $200,000. Donations came in from residents of 11 states and from as far away as Hawaii. The largest donation, $200,000, was from an anonymous Bennington resident.

“We are now looking forward to going to the next phase and to collaborate with the Bennington County Regional Commission and many others to develop a long-range plan for this critically important property,” said Dee.

He closed with thanks for the health system’s healthcare workers and other essential employees in our region for their heroic efforts during this past year and noted that the level of support for The Grateful Bennington Fund is a reflection of the appreciation the community feels for both those efforts and the campus.

“Through your generosity, we will be able to make needed investments in the site and to maintain it as a critical community resource,” Dee closed.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care is among the most lauded small rural health systems in the nation. It is the recipient of the American Hospital Association’s 2020 Rural Hospital Leadership Award. SVMC ranked fourth nationwide for the value of care it provides by the Lown Institute Hospital Index and is a five-time recipient of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence. It has also received the highest marks possible from the Leapfrog Group. 

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center provides exceptional care without discriminating on the basis of an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.

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