Fail, Survive, or Thrive

November 04, 2022 @ 12:00am

I am finally sitting in that cozy chair in the corner of my office as I write this. There is a small table next to it, that I pulled in front of me to create a workspace. After a busy day of pulling month-end reports, it was time for a change of scenery today.

For those of you who follow us on social media, you may recall that Healthfirst recently had a can sculpture contest. Historically, we have participated in United WeCan with the Marathon County United Way. Some of their strategies have changed, and they transitioned away from the event. However, we had the money budgeted to participate. So after some thought, we decided to bring it in house.


Healthfirst staff were broken into the following teams: Team Mauston, Team Baraboo, Team Point, Team Marshfield, Team Tomahawk, Team Leadership, Team Operations, Team WIC, and Team Wausau. Each team was given a $300 budget and were encouraged to let the creative juices flow. The contest served many purposes-teamwork, coordination, working within a budget, creativity. But most importantly, it gave us the opportunity to give back to the communities we serve. That may seem to be a strange concept as we are a non-profit. However, I encourage our team and organization to give back as much as we can-as it is part of our mission.

After the team building, the voting, and the fun-we tore down the can sculptures so we could donate the food items to pantries in our service area. With only nine sculptures and a plethora of pantries to choose from, we needed to be strategic on how we divided the food. So, we started exploring our options. It became apparent that our team wanted to focus our donations on some of the small, rural pantries in our area. And thank goodness we did.

A few of the rural pantries we went to had almost empty shelves. It had been months since they received any donations. And they were overjoyed that we thought of them. Now, I have to give kudos to my team for thinking through this strategically. We could have easily run down the street to one of the large pantries. However, we put in the time and resources to get the food where it was especially needed. Even though rural healthcare is the name of our game, we often forget about the struggles of our rural population. Transportation being one of them.

How often do we think, lets take the extra time to travel to Edgar, Wisconsin to fill the shelves at their food pantry? I know I have not. But I have thought, I can drop this off in Point quick because I am already there. It is such a backwards way of thinking. I have the resources and can drive the extra miles and spend the extra time to help someone in rural areas. But I routinely take the easy option because I am already there.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are people in need in both places. And the food items will be used regardless of if I take them to a rural or metropolitan area. But I, as many others, have a choice. The choice to make impact. And sometimes a little extra effort on my part can create greater impact. Now that family in Edgar does not have to figure out how to get to the Wausau or Marshfield metro area. They can fill their cupboards locally. I challenge you to take the extra step, to put in the extra effort, and to increase your impact.

About the author: Jessica Scharfenberg
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