For some companies, starting a social action committee might be a challenge, but at Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, it comes naturally. L. Kenneth Taylor, president and CEO, says health care professionals inherently understand the importance of giving back to the community, so it isn’t hard for his organization, a not-for-profit entity, to support other organizations.
“We feel a very special responsibility to give back to the communities we serve, in terms of either uncompensated care or health education programs,” he says.
Hospital employees, physicians and volunteers raised $63,000 to support the families of the victims of Sept. 11 and $67,000 to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In addition, they give funds annually to United Way and Community Shares.
Southwest employees also established the Associate Angels program. Employees who find themselves in financial straits can apply for a noninterest-bearing loan. An employee-led governance council manages these funds, which have helped many employees, including one who lost his home in a fire, and another a spousal abuse victim who was living in a temporary shelter and needed money to get an apartment.
With so many people and organizations asking for help, how does a philanthropically minded company choose which causes to support?
“We found several years ago that we were getting requests from everybody, and it became very easy to say, ‘This is a personal favorite of mine,’ when, in fact, it really was not consistent with the mission of Southwest General,” Taylor says. “So we put some criteria down on paper, and that’s what we have been following for the past several years.”
So how does he create a culture of social responsibility?
“It’s really a matter of identifying the people within your organization who are interested in carrying the message to their colleagues and supporting them and it will grow by itself,” he says.
HOW TO REACH: Southwest General Health Center, (440) 816-8650 or www.swgeneral.com