Each year, as a pacesetter organization for the United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades annual campaign, Lee Memorial Health System employees demonstrate caring, compassion, generosity and pride for our community. Through charitable support of the United Way, in addition to the work we do every day and night, we show our community we care.
Through more than 70 partner organizations, the United Way helps people throughout our community. In 2011, a week before Thanksgiving, Jill Palmer, director of volunteer services at HealthPark Medical Center, and her family received much-needed support after a fire destroyed their home.
Jill’s husband, Yancey, remembers waking up to a strange noise and seeing gas and paint cans exploding in the carport and a fire growing with every second. Yancey and Jill jumped into action, grabbed their children—Colsen, who was 6 years old at the time and two-year-old Wren—called 911 and left everything behind. “I didn’t grab a blanket, a pacifier or even a stuffed animal,” Jill says. “It was cold that night and I grabbed nothing.”
Yancey ran back into the house to find his wallet and a set of car keys. He put his family into the car and drove down the street. “I didn’t want my kids to watch their house and everything they owned burn down,” he says.
Jill still remembers the shock. “I remember telling Yancey that this couldn’t be happening,” she says.
Help arrived quickly, including two American Red Cross volunteers who assessed the situation and provided drinks, granola bars and teddy bears for the children. The volunteers helped the Palmers fill out necessary paperwork and gave them a credit card to help replace basic items, like clothing and food. “I really didn’t think the Red Cross helped people like us,” Jill says. “We had jobs, money in the bank, but at that moment none of that mattered. We were in a state of crisis and they were responding to an emergency.”
In the weeks that followed, the Palmers lived with friends until they found a rental home. More than a year after the fire, they moved into a new house that they built on the same property as their old house. “We will forever be grateful to the volunteers who were dragged from their warm beds and cozy homes to rush to our side that unforgettable night,” Jill says. “They held our hands, wiped our tears and offered their support.”
The American Red Cross receives funding from the United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades and supports victims of all types of disasters. With help from the agency, the Palmer family got a head start on rebuilding their lives.
Supporting the United Way helps people from all walks of life during times of need. We are so proud of our team members—the more than 10,500 professionals and 4,500 volunteers and auxilians—who competently and compassionately serve our patients every day and night, while also supporting our community through worthwhile organizations like the United Way…we are truly blessed with caring people, caring for people.
President, Lee Memorial Health System