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Signs of Hope: Happiness is a warm blanket

Conquest - Spring 2013

Photo: Adolfo Chavez III

The Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support

By Gail Goodwin

“It was very comforting, like being wrapped in a warm hug,” says one patient of the warmed blanket she received while waiting for a procedure at MD Anderson.

That patient owes her thanks not only to this institution, but also to the Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support (VEPS), which is a program of the Department of Volunteer Services.

Established in 1991 by a handful of volunteers, the endowment was created to provide a perpetual source of funding for important patient-oriented programs not ordinarily covered through traditional sources.

Some of these are small grants addressing basic services and amenities; others are larger and more complex. All provide hope and raise the quality of a patient’s experience.

It was the promise of providing for these needs in perpetuity that captured the founding volunteers’ imaginations, a promise that proved to be a wise vision. VEPS-supported programs have helped make MD Anderson a place known for providing support with the associated problems that confront cancer patients, as well as for going beyond the basics of medical treatment.

Multiple projects benefit

To date, VEPS has disbursed $2,168,152 in accrued interest to support a wide variety of needs and requests — from a booklet for caregivers to aquariums found in many waiting rooms to those warm blankets.

Departments throughout the cancer center apply for funds to support programs or projects that will enhance their patients’ care. Through fundraising efforts and an annual luncheon, the endowment corpus has reached $2,745,898.

The countless benefits VEPS offers patients are measured by less tangible means. A child’s laughter, a warm handshake, a grateful smile and a heartfelt hug in response to a program, service or even that warm blanket reflect the true value of VEPS and the reason it was established.

A donation to the endowment is an investment in the future of volunteerism and support programs, an investment with a direct effect on patients' quality of life. For more information about VEPS, call 713-792-7180 or visit the website.

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