Women are a major force in philanthropy, and their involvement continues to grow. Nationally, women make 75 percent of health care decisions and 85 percent of giving decisions.
Women paying it forward
Locally, we see many examples of women in philanthropy who help support Marshfield Clinic’s mission of patient care, research and education.
Diane Meissner, Floreine Kurtzweil and Dr. Amy Herbst come from vastly different backgrounds and career paths. Each offers contributions of time and money in different ways to Marshfield Clinic and the community. And all of them share a strong sense of helping other people.
These three women have helped raise the visibility of what women and philanthropy can do to support programs that help families and communities. They have channeled their passions, time and resources for the benefit of others and all they are looking for is to know they have made a difference in the life of another. They will continue to pay it forward.
Diane Meissner – active giving
Diane, who operates High Street Salon, Spa and Travel in Marshfield, and her family are closely associated with two major fundraisers for Marshfield Clinic, the Auction of Champions and “Fore the Kids” Golf Outing.
She’s been actively involved for about 20 years with the Auction of Champions, a social event that raises thousands of dollars for the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.
She also helps brother-in-law and sister-in-law, David and Tammy Meissner, with “Fore the Kids,” which supports pediatric needs at the Clinic. Diane also volunteers every week to help children with their homework at Youth Net, an afterschool program of Marshfield Clinic’s Center for Community Outreach.
“I feel the National Farm Medicine Center is such a great organization, especially with the work they are doing to make farming safer for children,” she said. “And the Auction of Champions is something I look forward to every year. I enjoy being a co-chair for the event, all the planning and the opportunity to get dressed up for such a great evening.”
As a business owner, she also supports many community organizations as a volunteer and financial contributor. Prime examples are the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Hope Lodge, Children’s Miracle Network, Marshfield Noon Rotary, House of the Dove and Grace Lutheran Church, among others.
“My giving has just evolved,” she said. “When you’re young and have a family, you may not have much time or money to give. But as I started to get more involved with the community, I realized there were so many needs out there that we could help in various ways. My mom was and still is a great volunteer, and my dad was the same way. I’ve tried to instill in my children the same values I was taught, to do whatever you can to help others. I believe that giving of your time is sometimes more important than donating money.”
Diane is the daughter of a prominent retired Clinic physician, Dr. William Dovenbarger. “That’s probably why I’m such a champion of the Clinic, because I grew up with it,” she said. “I have fond memories of visiting my father in the old Clinic building on South Central Avenue. We knew everybody and we hung out together, and I’d listen to them talk about the Clinic.”
Diane married Jerry Meissner, whose family operates the Norm-E-Lane Farm eight miles from Marshfield. “When I was first married, I heard that some people said they couldn’t believe a doctor’s daughter would be milking cows, but it was really no big deal,” she said. She now does all the bookwork for the farm.
Between the large farm and her own business, she’s got a lot on her plate. “I like to spread myself around,” she acknowledged. “But it’s so rewarding when you see the good your time or money can do.”
Floreine Kurtzweil – time, talent and treasure
Ninety years young this June, Floreine learned through the Catholic Church to make the most of her time, talent and treasure. She’s lived her faith through a number of life transitions, by volunteering for worthwhile organizations and working with Marshfield Clinic on a planned gift.
Floreine grew up on the family farm near Edgar but left when World War II was starting because she saw no future there. Her mother had been raised in Chicago, so she headed there and got a job right away.
She served as a secretary at the Chicago Tribune, radio station WGN and a small advertising agency before joining the world-famous Leo Burnett agency. “It was wonderful. They had 550 people when I started but it was like a big family,” she recalled.
She volunteered for many years in the spinal care unit of a Chicago hospital, where she saw mostly young people…a great use of her time. She also dabbled in Republican politics, in a decidedly Democratic Chicago.
Along the way, she was in the Young Republicans with Donald Rumsfeld and remembers standing in the Palmer House Hotel lobby with Ronald Reagan after he lost the 1964 nomination to Barry Goldwater.
Having been taught as a child to save and invest, she started doing so early. Never married, she thrived in an era when she said the prevailing wisdom was that women needed a husband for support.
“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do on my own, with nobody’s help except God’s,” she said. Most days, she walked the half hour from her high-rise apartment to her job, so she had little need for a car and all the associated expenses.
But at age 57, she got her first driver’s license in preparation for her retirement five years later, when she left Chicago for the family farm to take care of her father. The devout Catholic immediately became active in the community through the women’s group and Parish Council at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in nearby Halder.
She was asked to be the hostess for the Friday night fish fries during Lent, singlehandedly seating 800-900 people each Lenten Friday for 18 years.
“It was fun,” she said…and a good example of her talent.
Five years ago, she moved to an apartment in Marshfield, where she again looked for a place to serve. She found it at the Marshfield medical campus, where she volunteers at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital as an escort for families with a loved one in surgery, and has made a generous donation of planned gifts at Marshfield Clinic.
“I’m grateful for my blessings and I wanted to share with the community,” she said. “It’s the idea that it’s a worthwhile organization, but even more than that, it’s beneficial to the community.”
For her, it makes sense to make a gift of treasure to the Clinic, where her charitable gift annuities are supplementing her income while she is living, and will continue to serve others after her lifetime.
Amy Herbst, M.D. – supporting children’s charities
Time is a precious commodity for Dr. Herbst, who has three children and a busy pediatrics practice at Marshfield Clinic. She makes time to volunteer for one big event per year, and financially supports several organizations, most of which help children in need.
Every year at the “Fore the Kids” golf outing, Amy can be found spending the day working a hole that her department sponsors. She organizes the sponsorship and personally meets with golfers passing through, to thank them for their support of an event that is all about meeting children’s needs.
“It’s really near and dear to my heart as a mother and a pediatrician,” she said. “I think it’s important for Marshfield Clinic to have a presence from my department, so donors can see firsthand that this is something we support and we appreciate.” People do notice, because she’s seen people in other settings who say things like, “Oh, you’re the doctor we see at the golf outing.”
Amy said it was drilled into her head as a child growing up in Watertown, a southern Wisconsin community slightly larger than Marshfield, that anyone can make a difference through contributions of time or money.
As children, she and her two siblings were always busy with volunteer work, and that’s something she and husband Todd Risa, D.O., a neuroradiologist at the Clinic, are just starting to pass on to their children ranging in age from 8 to 3.
“We’ve had some discussions with them and explained that they are lucky enough to be in a good position, but there are other kids and families who are not so lucky,” she said. “When you’re one of the lucky ones, it’s your duty as a human being to look out for others and help them.”
They support children’s charities, which include the “Fore the Kids” golf event and Pediatric Angel Fund at the Clinic and the Children’s Miracle Network at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
They also support other charities including UNICEF, United Way, the Red Cross, House of the Dove hospice facility and Doctors without Borders, an organization that supports medical missions to countries in need. As her family gets older, she’d like to participate in such missions.
She and her husband support environmental organizations because of their belief, again from childhood, that “When you leave this world, you should leave it better than it was when you got here.” In addition, Amy said they expect their children to respect others and treat everyone well.
How can you help?
If you’d like to support Marshfield Clinic’s philanthropic efforts, we would love to hear from you. Contact MCHS Foundation at 715-387-9249, toll-free at 1-800-858-5220, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.