February 2, 2021
Des Moines, IA — During one of the most difficult years, Wellmark employees spent time sewing blankets and masks, donating blood and plasma, fostering animals, coaching youth sports, mentoring students and assisting at food pantries. They logged 22,690 hours volunteering in Iowa and South Dakota communities large and small.
"With the impact of COVID-19 last year, we saw so many more individuals facing hardships and social isolation than we have in years past," said Mary Lawyer, executive director at The Wellmark Foundation. "Wellmark employees stepped up and gave their time and money to ensure a better tomorrow for others and we couldn’t be prouder."
Through The Wellmark Foundation's BluesCare GivingSM program, employees determine where charitable contributions are distributed in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark employee volunteer hours are matched with monetary contributions to the employee's designated, qualifying nonprofit. The Wellmark Foundation also matches Wellmark employees’ personal contributions to eligible nonprofit organizations through the ongoing Matching Gifts Program and the annual Payroll Deduction Campaign.
"The Wellmark Foundation was pleased to support more than 600 nonprofit organizations across Iowa and South Dakota totaling $1.3 million through our BluesCare Giving program in 2020," said Lawyer.
A few of these contributions included more than $51,000 to the Food Bank of Iowa, $41,000 to Variety — The Children's Charity, $10,000 to the Harrisburg School District (HHS) in South Dakota, and $7,500 to the University of South Dakota Foundation. In addition, 29 additional nonprofits received more than $10,000 each.
"As a result of the pandemic, food insecurity rates and reliance on food banks are skyrocketing like never before," said Michelle Book, president & CEO of Food Bank of Iowa. "Nutritious food is essential for kids to grow and learn. Through grants like The Wellmark Foundation's, Food Bank of Iowa is able to provide healthy food to Iowans experiencing hunger."
"We are grateful for the donations HHS received from The Wellmark Foundation this school year," said Ryan Rollinger, principal at Harrisburg High School. "During a challenging year, these funds allowed us to continue to offer our students a sense of normalcy by providing extracurricular activities, while following our safety protocols. These funds often afford opportunities for students who may not have the financial means, especially in light of this year's circumstances. We greatly appreciate Wellmark employees and The Wellmark Foundation for choosing to donate to HHS."
Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) Grants
In addition to the $1.3 million given through BluesCare Giving, the Foundation's MATCH grants and special project funding awarded $2.8 million to more than 50 recipients. All the funded projects will help individuals, families and communities achieve better health and access to places to be physically active.
The Wellmark Foundation provided MATCH grants for projects that are designed to be sustainable and have a lasting impact over generations including: 16 walking/biking trails, 12 overall park plans, nine playgrounds, four basketball courts, four outdoor classrooms/farm-to-table programs, three safe routes to schools plans, two aquatic centers, two splash pads and outdoor recreation projects like a baseball complex, pickleball court, disc golf court and more.
"Whether it's planting a community garden or making a town more walkable and bikeable, these projects will help enhance the well-being of residents across Iowa and South Dakota," said Lawyer.
Since its inception in 1991, The Wellmark Foundation has provided more than $54 million in funding to communities across Iowa and South Dakota.
For more information about The Wellmark Foundation, visit Wellmark.com/Foundation.