Charity, Reliant Medical Group Foundation, Worcester, MAFALLON CLINIC GIVES…

By: Rachel Bryson-Brockmann
Worcester Mag

Aug 24, 2011 – Fallon Clinic, and its charitable arm Fallon Foundation, makes health a priority in their giving.

The Clinic gives out $100,000 a year in rolling sponsorships to different events, programs and projects, while the foundation will give out more than $200,000 in health-related grants to nonprofit organizations this year.

Fallon Clinic has 20 medical facilities throughout central Massachusetts. Employing 1,841 people, it has reported revenues of $316 million in 2010, and services include family practice, internal medicine, urgent-care centers and more than 30 specialty services.

The clinic distributes its annual budget of $100,000 between an average of 50 to 60 nonprofit organizations in Worcester. The clinic usually gives $1,000 to local walks, and the employees themselves are often on teams for the walks. The clinic also gives $20,000 a year to Fallon Foundation, the charitable arm of the clinic, for its annual golf-tournament event, which is the way the foundation raises the majority of its money.

Dr. Jack Dutzar, president and CEO of Fallon Clinic, says that the goal in choosing which events or organizations to sponsor are those which improve the health of the community, and in 2011, they’ve supported such events as the Central Mass. Heart Walk and the YMCA Greens for Teens Golf Tournament. “It’s just the right thing to do,” he says. And Dutzar, who is on the United Way board, says that clinic employees get two days of paid volunteer work a year.

The Fallon Foundation places a large focus on childhood obesity—giving $26,625 in 2010 to obesity-related causes. Kelsa Zereski, Fallon Foundation’s director of philanthropy, says that in the past five years, the foundation became especially aware of the pediatric-obesity crisis in Massachusetts, which has increased here while it has decreased in other states. “Being a gang of docs, the board is very interested in childhood obesity,” assures foundation president Michael DiPierro. “We’re hopeful of being able to make changes locally – there appears to be a void in that arena. Childhood obesity comes about by the environment and behavior, and we hope to make a mark on that in Worcester.”

Zereski says that in 2010, the foundation was able to give out a total of $121,492 to nonprofits, but has already raised $220,000 in 2011, due to the popularity of this year’s golf tournament. The two-day Drive for a Difference, which takes place in May and is in its 13th year, has increased in popularity over the past few years due to the addition of a dinner and a live auction with auctioneer Paul Zekos.

One of the organizations that Fallon Foundation supports is Nativity School of Worcester, a tuition-free, independent Jesuit middle school for boys from lowincome Worcester neighborhoods that relies solely on contributions. Zereski says Nativity School came to them three years ago with a proposal to start a curriculum for nutrition and exercise, as they were lacking one. The result was the Healthy Living Initiative, which combines a Cooking Club, where boys learn to cook nutritious food, and a wider variety of intramural sports.

“The Cooking Club has helped the boys explore the ability to cook safely, but also use healthy alternatives to ingredients like sugar and oil,” says Alex Zequeira, president of the Nativity School. “The intramural program was expanded with the grant from Fallon,” explains Zequeira. “Different activities are now available, and we have new equipment.”

Zequeria says he noticed a change since Fallon started funding their Healthy Initiative: “There’s been a greater awareness in the boys now that what you put into your body is what you get out of it,” he says. “Education is not just math and science. For us here, it’s educating the whole person. It’s important to make good healthy decisions.”

Fallon Foundation also funds a healthy-snack program at Worcester Youth Center, giving $5,000 annually to buy the youth healthy snacks, such as fruit and tuna. Besides its focus on obesity, the foundation also concentrates on early literacy through the Reach Out and Read Program, a program where pediatricians give children free books at each well-visit and encourage families to read.

“Our entire medical practice is dedicated to the folks who live in Worcester County,” says DiPierro. “It’s our job as a responsible corporate citizen. We do it very gratefully.”