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VA employees go on feeding frenzy for Rowan Helping Ministries

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY – Employees at the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center collected 3,750 pounds of food and household items for Rowan Helping Ministries during a recently completed drive.
But the department that really impressed and took the summer’s “Feds Feed Families” drive to a new level was the Integrated Fee/non-VA Care Service, located in Building 21A.
That service alone contributed 3,200 pounds of the medical center’s total, thanks to some fierce and friendly competition within the department.
“The results are awesome,” said Kelley Miller, chief of the service.
Overall, counting outpatient clinics in Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Hickory, the VA collected 5,000 pounds of goods.
Deb Cranfill, a clinical pharmacist in Winston-Salem, donated 800 pounds of goods alone that will go to a Winston-Salem food bank.
Allen Hughes, of Hughes Hauling and Clean-Up, volunteers frequently to pick up donated items for Rowan Helping Ministries. He showed up Wednesday afternoon at a VA Medical Center loading dock with his pickup.
Hughes quickly realized, as cart after cart of stuff came out, that he would be making more than one trip.
“This is a pretty big haul,” Hughes said while he was loading the bed of his truck with the help of Fee Service employees Keenan Blanks, Anthony Thompson, Dr. Gregory Scott and David Phillips, chief of nutrition and food service.
For good measure, Interim Director Anthony Dawson also pitched in, even in his suit and tie.
Miller created a competition in her department of 37 employees between the administrative side and the clinical side. She really spiced up things, however, by also making it a “Save Your Supervisor” battle.
Fee Supervisor Tamara Monroe represented the administrative side; Fee Nurse Manager Melissa Zimmerman, the clinical side.
The loser faced cooking breakfast and/or lunch for the rest of the department and the “indignity” of dressing like the winning supervisor.
“We won each week, but the last week was a blowout,” Zimmerman said.
And it was a blowout not in her favor.
On the final day of the challenge, the sides combined to bring in 1,620 pounds of donated items, and the administrative team breezed past the outmanned clinical folks.
It means Zimmerman will have to wear a skirt and 4-inch heels to work one day – not the regular nursing garb she prefers.
Still, Zimmerman is happy with all the food and household products that were sent off to Rowan Helping Ministries Wednesday. The items such as flour, sugar, salt, rice, beans, drinks, bleach and washing powder were the kinds of sustainable things a family needs, Zimmerman said.
In Integrated Fee/Non-VA Care Service, Miller designated Fridays as collection and “weigh-in” days, when the donated items were placed on scales and employees found out which side was ahead.
The department also held contests such as “Dress of the Decade” (an ’80s outfit won) and “Denim and Jersey,” when employees were allowed to wear jeans with their favorite ball-team shirts.
“The results were fabulous – I was so overwhelmed,” Miller said.
VA employees strive to provide the best customer service for veterans, Miller says, They also want to support the community.
“We’re always looking for ways to help out,” Miller says.
The department already is talking about next summer’s feeding frenzy.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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