For many years, members of the Kappa Guild — a Baltimore-based group that raises approximately $10,000 annually for children’s health causes — have known all about the good work they do in the community.
But the coronavirus pandemic has inadvertently offered a chance for members of the 68-year-old guild — founded by 10 altruistically minded Jewish women in Baltimore — to see the fruits of their labors firsthand in an unusual way.
Using Zoom, the members now have the opportunity to sit in on virtual tours/presentations of the hospitals that receive their donations.
On Aug. 27, the group “visited” both Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. By seeing live-streaming, videos and images of the equipment and supplies purchased with their donation money, Guild members could see up close the impact of their work.
For decades, the organization has donated funds through mahjong tournaments, private contributions and other fund-raising events to children’s hospitals throughout Maryland. But with the restrictions of COVID-19 on their meeting times and events, they needed to adapt to the constraints of the pandemic.
“We were able to get a group of nurses and doctors together who use this equipment … and have each clinician explain what the piece of equipment is used for,” says Carly Foland, director of annual and special giving at the University of Maryland Medical System Foundation.
During the presentation, Kappa Guild members were able to see the impact of their work.
Said Sheila Mentz, the guild’s president: “As far as my members are concerned, they know what we do, basically. But for them to actually see it … is a completely different thing.”
Among the 25 organizations that benefit from the guild are the University of Maryland Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Sinai Hospital’s Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital, the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital and Mercy Medical Center.
According to Mentz, Kappa Guild has also funded equipment for pediatric and/or NICUs at local hospitals such as St. Agnes, St. Joseph Medical Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, as well as the Rose of Sharon Equestrian School.
In addition, funds send needy children to summer camps like the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s Camp Oasis and Lions Camp Merrick, which is primarily for children with diabetes.
The guild builds its coffers through fashion shows, gift-wrapping services at The Shops at Kenilworth each holiday season, mahjong card sales, fireball savings cards, contribution cards and the organization’s signature “Annual Donor,” a fundraising event at a local hall.
Mentz says the guild’s “annual donor shows” are among the events for which the group is most well-known.
In 2017, the guild was honored for its efforts over the decades on National Philanthropy Day with an Unsung Hero Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Maryland Chapter.
When seeing what their work has accomplished, Mentz said, members feel proud of what they have done and are inspired to continue donating and giving.
Foland agreed, adding, “For people, especially during this time, who want to feel directly connected to their giving, this is a great method for relationship building.”
The relationships between hospitals and those who donate to them are strong. In fact, the University of Maryland hospital has even added a wall thanking their donors — including Kappa Guild members — that will be unveiled soon.
Gillian Blum is a Jmore editorial intern.