For 11 years, Stafford Swearingen has been a fixture at Bothwell Regional Health Center, serving in many volunteer roles. He joined the Bothwell Foundation Board of Directors in 2011 and held terms as vice president and president. In 2019 Swearingen was appointed to the Bothwell Board of Trustees yet remained on the foundation board as trustee liaison.
After moving out of state in December, Swearingen left his trustee position; however, he is still a Bothwell Foundation board member.
Lauren Thiel-Payne, foundation executive director, said Swearingen’s decade-long leadership has been instrumental in the foundation’s success and plans, citing his genuine warmth, community connections and desire to lead by example.
“Stafford is so welcoming to everyone and is an amazing asset to our board,” she said. “His knowledge of Sedalia — the history, community, businesses, really everything, has been so beneficial to me as well as the hospital. He also is the first to volunteer for an event, participate in new ideas and be there to lend a helping hand.”
Over the past 18 months, the foundation has focused on growing its volunteer base by moving away from multiple events to increasing awareness of the health center, creating giving programs that anyone can participate in and thereby increasing the amount of support the foundation provides Bothwell. Thiel-Payne said one of Swearingen’s greatest accomplishments on the board has been his involvement in that transformation.
“Stafford wholeheartedly believed in the need to elevate the foundation and promised to recruit six new board members and help recruit six committee chairs,” she said. “He has stayed true to his word and helped us accomplish those goals.”
Swearingen said making the decision to change the direction of the foundation was easy and means ensuring the future of Bothwell Regional Health Center.
“Our hospital cannot survive in its current form without a thriving, growing and prospering foundation to financially support it,” he said. “Bothwell’s payer mix, which is the percentage of revenue that comes from private insurance, government insurance and self-pay patients, and the changing employment picture dictate an alternate source of funds for the hospital to continue to provide the services needed to keep our patients close to their homes and families.”
The foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in 2005 to assist Bothwell Regional Health Center and provide resources to keep health care local, state-of-the-art and close to home. In 17 years, more than $4.5 million has been given to Bothwell by the foundation through fundraising, special events and sound investments.
The foundation’s new structure has added six volunteer-led committees, including Special Prospects, Annual Giving, Community Relations, Employee Giving, Business Relations and Planned Giving. Adding in existing Wear Red for Women and Lub Dub committees, foundation volunteers now total more than 100. With a team that includes just one full-time and one part-time paid foundation staff members, recruiting volunteer talent and resources is critical to the organization’s ability to create awareness and raise funds.
“For the foundation to thrive, we have to have a strong volunteer base,” Thiel-Payne said. “We rely on volunteers to drive our committees, help share our message with the community and support our mission. We wouldn’t be here without our volunteers.”
While COVID-19 placed incredible financial strains on Bothwell for the last three years, Swearingen is confident Bothwell is in good hands.
“These people are the best,” he said. “The current leadership team, hospital and foundation boards, employees and volunteers are doing everything they can to ensure that those who need medical care are going to receive the best care they can deliver with the resources available. We simply need this hospital to flourish if our community is to grow and thrive.”
While Swearingen and his wife, Gena, now live in Cave Creek, Arizona, it doesn’t mean he won’t still be involved in the community and the foundation as a board member.
“It has truly been an honor to serve on the foundation and trustees’ boards and give back to an institution that has done so much for my family when needed,” he said. “Now, I’m just a regular Joe, but hopefully still contributing and making a difference.”
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