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Keep Those Lattes Coming!
The Women's Board emerges as a funding force to be reckoned with

Sue Cashman, left, Women's Board president, and Cary Achuff, committee chair
The Women's Board may be renowned for those endless cups of coffee, mammoth muffins and chicken salad sandwiches dispensed daily in its three coffee bars, but increasingly, this 55-member organization, which faithfully plows its fund-raising profits into patient care, is recognized as a powerful, grant-making force. Recently, the Women's Board announced its biggest gift ever: $2 million for the new Children's and Maternal Hospital.

Where does all that cash come from? On top of the $200,000 it rakes in annually from its coffee bars, the Women's Board takes in $200,000 from its two gift shops and thousands more from its second-hand store, the Carry-On Shop, and signature fund-raisers like the Best Dressed Sale, spring golf tournament and "Great Taste" kitchen tour. It all adds up to about $800,000 a year.

"Our coffee bars and gift shops are our mainstays, and that business just keeps growing," says Sue Cashman, Women's Board president. This fall, in fact, one more coffee bar, just inside the entrance at the Welch Medical Library, will join the Board's three-shop empire, based at the Outpatient Center, Weinberg and Green Spring.

The Women's Board has been funding patient care projects ever since it was established in 1927. In recent years, annual grants, which currently total more than $700,000, have funded scores of projects as varied as Type for Life (the bone marrow registration drive), sleep chairs for the Children's Center, and scholarships at the schools of Medicine and Nursing.

The Women's Board can make its picks because it stays well connected to the medical institutions. Two women sit on the boards of Johns Hopkins Medicine and Hopkins Hospital. Twenty-two more serve as liaisons who meet once a year with department or functional unit heads. At monthly meetings, department directors and others explain the latest advances and institutional imperatives.

Every September, the Women's Board solicits funding requests from hospital departments and the schools of Medicine and Nursing. Requests then are weighed by a nine-member review panel. Three people read and independently rate each request. "It's an objective way of determining which requests would have the biggest impact on patient care," says Cary Achuff, head of the hospital relations committee.

The entire board votes on the requests, and grants are announced in May. The $2 million gift to help finance the Children's Center's new building is a five-year pledge to be paid in $400,000 installments, beginning in July 2004. "It's wonderful to make a big donation because it gets noticed," says Achuff. "Now, we hope that the economy settles down and people keep giving. Of course, if not, we can always bank on the coffee."

-Anne Bennett Swingle



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