When Natalie Sparkman, finance project manager at Parkland Health Center, first heard about BJC’s new charitable donation program, she immediately thought of Shared Blessings, a charity located in Bonne Terre.
Coincidentally, so did Amber Black, a radiologic technologist who also works at Parkland, whom Natalie had never even met.
“Amber and I first met at the donation event,” says Natalie. “We both work at Parkland but different shifts.”
But while Amber and Natalie didn’t know each other and submitted separate nominations, their experience with Shared Blessings was very similar.
“I learned about Shared Blessings through the fundraisers they hold throughout the year,” says Amber. “They do a lot for our community, helping the homeless and those down on their luck. They rely totally on volunteers and donations.”
Natalie also became aware of Shared Blessings through their events. “They do so much and help so many people,” she says. “They have a wonderful program on Thanksgiving where they make sure everyone has a turkey dinner.”
Both Amber and Natalie were inspired last year when BJC invited nominations for charitable organizations that had personal meaning to employees. BJC had set aside $25,000 to support local charities with missions of improving health, education, child/youth development, senior/disabled support or community-building. Employees submitted more than 100 nominations, and a total of 13 charities were selected to receive grants up to $4,000 each.
Thanks to Amber and Natalie’s separate nominations, Shared Blessings received a grant of $1,500. Both Natalie and Amber were present when the grant was awarded, along with Shelly Bess, the executive director.
“Shared Blessings is beyond grateful, but humbled, by this award,” said Shelly. “We strive every day to help more people. This award helped financially, but educating our area about our existence is also a tremendous blessing.”
Last year, 765 applications for assistance were received by Shared Blessings. Of those, 168 were approved. Last year, Shared Blessings served or delivered 3,700 Thanksgiving dinners.
“Anytime I need to make a donation, my first stop is Shared Blessings,” says Natalie. “I know that anything that I drop off, whether it be monetary or tangible items, will be kept locally and truly go to those in need.”
Learn more about Shared Blessings here.
Photo from left to right: Tom Karl, president, Parkland Health Center (PHC); Natalie Sparkman, project manager, PHC; Shelly Bess, executive director, Shared Blessings, Inc.; Amber Black, radiologic technologist, PHC; and Rich Liekweg, president and CEO, BJC HealthCare.