GOSHEN — Since 1969, the Goshen Hospital and Health Care Foundation has given out nearly $6 million in grants for projects to improve health in Elkhart County, and more than four decades later, the group is still going strong.
Each year, the foundation refocuses its efforts to see where help is needed the most, and this year, the health needs of children rose to the top of the list, according to executive director Lynette Mischel.
“I know that need will never go away,” she said. “I expect children’s needs to be funded next year as well, and it could be with a different kind of program that comes through conversations with county health care leaders.”
The foundation has built up more than 50 funds over the past 44 years to support ongoing projects and services, including a loan program for people who want to study nursing and scholarships for high school students who want to receive medical training after they graduate.
Mischel came on board at the foundation three years ago, and one of her first orders of business was forming a health care task force to drive the foundation’s mission. The group, including members of the health community, schools and nonprofit organizations, then created the HOPE Project. The grant program aims to improve health care access.
This year, the HOPE Project funded at least five programs that will benefit children in Elkhart County. For example, the foundation set aside $15,000 to double the number of Goshen Middle School students served by a partnership with Oaklawn for behavioral health. The grant also increased the availability of a mental health staff member at the school from 1 1/2 days per week to nearly five days per week.
The HOPE Project also designated $11,000 to care for children with serious illnesses, $10,000 to expand ADHD treatment, $9,000 to provide emotional support for children of cancer patients and $5,000 to continue a free dental sealant program for kids at Goshen area schools through the IU School of Dentistry.
“We feel we’re a vessel of healing and hope,” Mischel said. “We’re the vessel to take the funds from the generous folks who believe in our ability to find the most compelling causes and just push the money right to those service providers in health care that can deliver.”
Another group called the IU Health Goshen Foundation was recently established at the hospital to address six specific wellness issues — cancer research, obesity, smoking, diabetes, access to primary care and access to mental health services — but it is separate from the Goshen Hospital and Health Care Foundation’s efforts.
Seeing program after program funded year after year, Mischel said she is proud of the Goshen Hospital and Health Care Foundation’s legacy.
“We have multigenerational families who are giving to this day,” she said. “They are excited about the future, wanting to be part of our planning for targeting where we can provide the most healing and just joining hands to treat their neighbors, their friends, their families, those most disadvantaged and vulnerable.”