Paula Benson Selected as Future Director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson
Paula Benson Selected as Future Director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson
Following a national executive search, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has selected Paula Benson as its future director. Benson, who has announced she is leaving her role as executive director of Wilson Forward, will begin her new position in January 2024 following the retirement of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Executive Director Denise O’Hara, who has led the foundation since its inception in 2014.
Benson has served in numerous leadership roles for organizations in Wilson, including serving as a board member of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, and she has worked with local, regional and statewide partners on issues and opportunities in education, workforce development, health and wellness.
Prior to her role at Wilson Forward, Benson worked at SAS Institute and Ernst & Young, where she began her career as a certified public accountant. Benson earned her bachelor’s degrees in business administration and economics at Meredith College.
Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has invested more than $57 million in the Wilson community with a steadfast focus on providing responsive and strategic funding for projects that meet current needs and provide promising, sustainable solutions to improve the health and well-being of Wilson County residents.
“Wilson is my home, and I am excited to be the next leader of an organization that has already made a tremendous impact and transformed our community’s response to some of the most significant opportunities and challenges,” said Paula Benson future director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “It will be a privilege to serve an organization that is dedicated to making Wilson an even better place while honoring many generations of individuals dedicated to the well-being of our community.”
Denise O’Hara Announces Retirement
After nearly a decade as the Executive Director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, Denise O’Hara plans to retire at the end of 2023.
O’Hara has led the foundation since its inception in 2014. Working with the founding board members, she charted a path for strategic and responsive grantmaking to support initiatives that address the top health concerns in the greater Wilson community.
Under her leadership, more than $57 million has been invested in the Wilson community with a steadfast focus on funding projects that meet current needs and provide promising, sustainable solutions to improve the health and well-being of Wilson County residents.
Following a national executive search, the board is selecting the candidate to lead the foundation. In the coming months, the future director will participate in strategic planning activities as Healthcare Foundation of Wilson explores future opportunities to invest in our community.
Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Announces 13 Grant Awards
WILSON, N.C. (June 29, 2023) – Thirteen new grants have been awarded by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson to support community projects that focus on solutions to some of the greatest health challenges for Wilson.
Each year, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson provides responsive grant funding to organizations in the greater Wilson community, and the 2023 awards total more than $368,000 in funding for initiatives that focus on solutions with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns, including adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The following grants have been approved to fund initiatives that address one or more of the four areas of health concern:
“We remain committed to providing grant funding for projects that address the greatest health concerns in our community,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “Our responsive grant funding since 2016 totals more than $7.2 million, and our total community funding-to-date is $56.2 million, which includes strategic grant funding and financial support for hospital improvements.”
Y-GIG Afterschool Program Launched; Foundation YMCA Now Open Downtown
Following a summer sampler of activities for middle school youth, the Foundation YMCA kicked off Y-GIG (Youth Gather, Interact & Grow). The innovative afterschool program for middle school students started in fall 2022 at the new Foundation YMCA location in downtown Wilson with a wide range of activities such as cooking, robotics, literary chats, and web design, which were provided in collaboration with community partners.
Y-GIG and the new Foundation YMCA facility are part of a bold and strategic funding commitment of more than $25 million made by Healthcare Foundation of Wilson in 2018. The Foundation YMCA provides a special space and place in the heart of Wilson for the much-needed afterschool experiences that are now offered through the Y-GIG program for middle school youth from across the county.
“It is incredibly exciting to see our leadership’s vision becoming a reality with the launch of Y-GIG and the opening of Foundation YMCA,” said Denise O’Hara. “The promising outcomes are countless, and we look forward to seeing the many ways that Wilson youth and our entire community will benefit from the foundation’s investment in the creation of sustainable, high quality afterschool experiences and this positive, new place of health and wellness.”
Y-GIG Spring Session Starting Soon
The spring session of Y-GIG is scheduled to start March 13. Youth who enroll for Y-GIG will select activities from a menu of options for a 10-week session. Enriching activities are offered with a focus on academics, arts and humanities, college and career, health and wellness and STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics).
Activities are provided onsite at the Foundation YMCA as well as within the community through partnerships with talented individuals and business leaders.
All middle school youth in Wilson County are eligible to enroll in Y-GIG. The Foundation YMCA offers a sliding scale rate, and scholarships are available. Students also have the option to select individual programs if they cannot attend full-time, and families can pay monthly or by session.
Y-GIG youth coordinators are assigned to each of the five middle schools in Wilson County, and transportation is provided from the five public schools to the Foundation YMCA and back to the schools.
Visit wilsonymca.org to learn more about enrollment for the next Y-GIG session.
Grant Funding Expands Healthy Experiences for Youth
Wilson youth were on the move in 2022 with a healthy taste of new activities thanks to grants awarded to The Arc of Wilson, Love A Sea Turtle, The SPOT and Wilson Police Athletic League.
Over the summer, Wilson Police Athletic League (PAL) offered a menu of camp experiences that kicked off with a Culinary Camp session during spring break. Youth made dough from scratch and prepared a meal from start to finish! The chef from Wilson Community College included food and kitchen safety tips as part of the experience, and the PAL volunteers teamed up with the youth for the kitchen creations. The monthly summer camp sessions featured football, cheerleading, baseball, softball and volleyball.
The Arc of Wilson added daily exercises activities at Camp Sunshine for youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Camp participants also received healthy snacks and lessons about healthy choices.
Wilson youth also enjoyed a two-week sailing camp along with concurrent options for golf thanks to a grant-funded partnership between Love A Sea Turtle (LAST) and The SPOT. The team expanded on their previously funded WOW (Wilson on Wheels) activities with new WOW (Wilson on Water) activities and other unique experiences to help develop physical fitness skills along with self-confidence.
Grant seekers have already submitted letters of inquiry to the foundation and are in the process of completing applications for 2023 funding. Healthcare Foundation of Wilson will announce new responsive grant awards in the summer. Learn more about what we fund and the responsive grant cycle.
Summit Provides Data for Community Health Needs Assessment
A local community health summit was hosted in late August to collect data needed for the 2022 Wilson Community Health Needs Assessment, which is a collaborative effort of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson, Wilson County Health Department and Wilson Medical Center.
Results of the full assessment will be published later in 2022, and each organization will address top health concerns with separate action plans.
Community Celebrates Wilson Changemakers and 2022 Grant Recipients
Healthcare Foundation of Wilson announced the 2022 responsive grant recipients over the summer with celebratory check presentations and the installation of banners to celebrate Changemakers of Wilson. Thirteen grant awards totaling $482,500 were awarded in July to support community projects that focus on solutions to some of the greatest health challenges for Wilson.
Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Announces 14 Responsive Grant Awards
WILSON, N.C. (July 11, 2022) – Healthcare Foundation of Wilson announces 14 grant awards totaling $482,500 to support community projects that focus on solutions to some of the greatest health challenges for Wilson.
Healthcare Foundation of Wilson provides responsive grants and strategic funding for programs that focus on sustainable solutions with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns, including adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The following 2022 grants have been approved to fund initiatives that address one or more of the four areas of health concern:
“As we increase our investments in strategic funding initiatives with high potential for long-term, positive health outcomes, we remain committed to providing grant funding for projects that respond to current health needs and rising concerns in our community,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson. “Our responsive grant funding since 2016 totals more than $6.8 million, and our total community funding-to-date is $54.6 million, which includes strategic grant funding and financial support for hospital improvements.”
Healthcare Foundation of Wilson Surpasses $36 Million in Total Funding
Thirteen New Responsive Grants Awarded for the Greater Wilson Community
WILSON, N.C. (July 12, 2021) – With the recent approval of 13 new responsive grant awards for 2021, Healthcare Foundation of Wilson’s investments in collaborative health and wellness initiatives in the Greater Wilson Community has reached more than $36 million in funding support for the local community since the establishment of the foundation.
Since 2014 Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has been committed to providing funding support for essential and strategic projects that improve the health and well-being of the people of greater Wilson. Funding has been provided to our community through four different avenues:
Responsive Grant Funding– $6.35 million
Strategic Grant Funding -$5.9 million – Fundingallocated to date for the Middle School Afterschool program and new YMCA facility. An additional $17 million in future funding has been approved for the initiative.
Restricted Funding – $626,992
Hospital Support -$23.56 million
Responsive grants and strategic funding support the Wilson community’s work to address adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Restricted funding provides support through donated funds that are designated in specific areas of healthcare, and the hospital support has provided funding for construction and upgrades to the local hospital.
The 13 new responsive grant awards for 2021, which total $821,300, are to support nonprofit sustainable solutions and measurable outcomes related to one or more of the foundation’s four focus areas.
“As Healthcare Foundation of Wilson increases it’s investments in vision-driven, strategic funding initiatives, we remain committed to providing these annual, responsive grants for sustainable projects that focus on rising concerns and current needs to improve the health and wellness of the greater Wilson community,” said Denise O’Hara, executive director of Healthcare Foundation of Wilson.