Impact Like Nowhere Else

The Essentia Health Foundation strives to make a positive impact in the lives of our patients and their families.

Did You Know?

The Essentia Health Foundation has raised more the $15 million to support patients and families over the past five years.

Every gift you make to the Essentia Health Foundation stays local and goes directly to the hospital of your choice. 100% of donations go to support Essentia Health Foundation’s patient-centered mission. 

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Foundation News

From supporting patients on a cancer journey, to purchasing iPads so patients can visit with their families during COVID — learn about all the different ways the Essentia Health Foundation is putting gifts from our generous donors to use. 

Read the Latest Foundation News.

Donor Stories

Hear from our donors firsthand about why they give. 

The Swansons: Helping Local Families

The Swansons: Helping Local Families

Cancer survivor Wayne Swanson wants to help others undergoing treatment for cancer. That’s why he and his wife, Sylvia, created the Pay It Forward for Cancer Fund through the Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Foundation.

The donor-designated fund helps cancer patients with daily living expenses, such as transportation costs, food, mortgage payments and electric bills.

“Going through cancer treatment is not a party, and after I made it through, we wanted to show how thankful we were to the community,” says Wayne, whose friends had started a similar fund in another city.

“It’s not about the dollars we raise but about the families we help,” Sylvia says. “The funds are staying local and helping people within our own community. The goal is that after they have undergone treatment, they, too, will pay it forward.”

Marny Dryer: Care is ‘Among the Best’

Marny Dreyer worked as a surgical nurse for 20 years in places such as Rochester, Minnesota, a world-renowned hub of medical excellence. That means you’d expect her to be a tough patient to impress.

But, after undergoing knee replacement, she described the care she received at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Detroit Lakes as “among the best.”

Now, Marny helps spread the word about Essentia’s high-quality care as a member of the St. Mary’s Foundation community relations committee. She also helps with the annual Fire and Ice fundraiser and donates to the foundation.

“There’s no better endorsement than that of a satisfied customer!” she says.

Linda Hunt: Helping the Community

For Linda Hunt, you could say life begins at St. Mary’s Detroit Lakes. Not only was she born there, but she also gave birth to her own children there. So she embraces opportunities to help make a difference in her hometown hospital.

“I really want to help the community by making sure we keep St. Mary’s as a viable medical provider,” she says.

Linda is a former member of the foundation board and has named St. Mary’s Detroit Lakes as the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. “It was a way to leverage my charitable dollars,” she says. “By paying the premium for the policy, I could provide for a much larger contribution on my death than I could through listing St. Mary’s in my will.”

Dr. Aelony: Supporting Improvements

A podiatrist at St. Mary’s Detroit Lakes, Dr. Jared Aelony believes it’s important to support facility improvements and expansion. 

“Facility improvements make it possible for us to offer the best quality of care and current technology to our patients, and it allows us to provide that care here in Detroit Lakes,” he says. “If we had to rely only on reimbursements from insurance or other payers, we would not be able to make these improvements.”

Dr. Aelony also is a member of St. Mary’s Foundation major gifts committee.

Jim Sinclair: Strong Example

A former firefighter, Jim Sinclair has seen first-hand the impact of an effective emergency department and ambulance service. That’s just one of the reasons he chooses to support Essentia Health as a donor and volunteer.

“My work and financial support of St. Mary’s Foundation is based on the fact that I don’t know of anything that has a bigger impact on our people than our hospital,” he says. “With the possible exception of our schools, the health care available to our friends, neighbors, and family members is the single most important service in our community.”

He’s also impressed by the high rate of employee giving at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes.

“Over 88 percent of the Essentia employees working in our community are donors to the foundation,” he says. “I hear a clear and consistent message that Essentia is a great place to work, and employees feel strongly that the foundation’s money and volunteer efforts are well used to improve the comfort and care of their patients.”

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