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Cottage's Vivi's Fund helps keep afloat families struck by tragedy

by Joshua D. Scroggin
June 29, 2017
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From left, CoastHills Credit Union employees Amanda Berrier and Kathy Young present a $2,000 donation with CoastHills Community Relations Officer Amanda Hollingworth at Cottage Children's Medical Center in Santa Barbara. The duo combined their donations from CoastHills' I'm All In employee giving program for one of the first gifts to Vivi's Fund, which helps provide short-term support for parents who need to remain near their children during extended hospital stays.

Few things can bring your world to a complete stop.

It’s usually when a life hangs in the balance. And when those unexpected complications hit our newborn babies, it’s every parent’s instinct to focus all their energy on the little ones they’ve just met.

Like many others, Amanda Berrier and Kathy Young have seen friends and family drop everything to leave Lompoc, so they and their babies can make Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit their temporary home.

That’s why the two CoastHills Credit Union employees elected to give a very special $2,000 donation to Cottage Children’s Medical Center.

The average NICU stay for a baby at Cottage is 15 days. Some infants can spend between three and five months in the hospital depending on how premature they are. Parents often need to stop working, so they can be at the hospital with their babies.  

Cottage has a special fund to provide short-term help to parents with things like rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, child care for other children and other forms of support to help keep families afloat.

It’s called Vivi’s Fund in memory of former NICU nurse Vivian Beutel. Vivian passed away in 2015 after complications with a brain aneurism. She cared for the tiniest patients with love and compassion for nearly 15 years and also headed the annual NICU reunion at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Within the past year, Amanda watched a friend and former co-worker land in the hospital with a premature baby. Kathy has a great-nephew who was born at Cottage in March. One of their current CoastHills co-workers and another Lompoc resident had a baby born prematurely recently as well. All three little ones are doing great, thanks to the terrific work by the staff at Cottage.

So, the CoastHills employees wanted to help the hospital and the parents it supports. Because at any time, those parents could be your family, friends and neighbors. The vehicle that allowed them to donate is the Credit Union’s “I’m All In” program.

I’m All In is an employee giving program that’s fully funded by voluntary staff donations. CoastHills employees can decide to give as little or as much as they can, and the amounts come straight out of their own paychecks. Each quarter, names of the program participants are drawn, and each one gets to choose where they would like to send a $1,000 donation.

The response by Credit Union staff has been amazing. More than 95 percent of employees have elected to participate. Initially, the hope was to give away one $1,000 sponsorship every three months, but the response was so overwhelming from the start, I’m All In began providing three sponsorships per quarter. Now, it’s up to five. I’m All In provided $16,000 of community support in 2016 and is on pace to give $20,000 in 2017.

And this recent donation isn’t the first time CoastHills and Cottage have teamed up. Last summer, through a partnership with Children’s Miracle Network and Co-Op Financial Services, Credit Union member donations were responsible for raising $22,500 for Cottage Children’s Medical Center.

Just like I’m All In, Vivi’s Fund is sustained entirely by donations. It’s easy to join the generous individuals already giving to the program. Just visit cottagehealth.org/donate and select “VIVI’S FUND/NICU Family Assistance” from the pull-down menu to ensure your support goes to the right place.

Gifts can also be received by mail at PO Box 689, Santa Barbara, CA 93102 or by phone at 805-879-8980. Just be sure to mention Vivi’s Fund in the memo line on your check or to the staff member at the advancement office.

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