Medical school’s COVID-19 Response Fund draws outpouring of support from the community

Donations made to the COVID-19 Resource Fund helps provide personal protective equipment for WMed Health's frontline workers.
Donations made to the COVID-19 Resource Fund helps provide personal protective equipment for WMed Health's frontline workers.

As the original date of the 5th Annual Imagine Gala at WMed approaches, the Kalamazoo community has shown an outpouring of support for medical students, employees and the community in the form of donations to the medical school’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

The annual gala, which was scheduled for May 16, 2020, was changed from an in-person gathering to a direct donation opportunity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. WMed donors, corporate partners and friends from the community are taking advantage of the opportunity to support the mission of WMed by giving to the COVID-19 Response Fund. The co-chairs of this year’s event, Bill and Barbara Parfet, and members of the gala planning committee, set up the fund to support the medical school’s frontline workers, students and community.

So far, since the fund’s announcement on April 3, donors have contributed more than $380,000. The Parfets have pledged to match all donations on a one-to-three basis until the $600,000 goal has been reached.

“One of the things that makes The WMed COVID-19 Response Fund so unique is the generous matching gift from The Parfet Family Matching Gift Fund,” said Jack Mosser, PhD, the medical school’s associate dean for Development and Alumni Affairs. “The generosity of Bill and Barbara Parfet is not only benefiting the medical school but also the members of our local community. This unique matching gift truly increases the impact of every donation and the benefits to the members of our local community.”

The fund provides personal protective equipment for WMed Health’s frontline workers, COVID-19 testing for Kalamazoo County residents at WMed Health, telehealth services to reach patients when in-person visits are not feasible, and technology upgrades to extend the reach of the medical school while stay-at-home orders are in effect and into the future.

Mosser said the very enthusiastic response shows people are looking for ways they can make a difference, particularly in Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan. The medical school’s COVID-19 Response Fund is a way the community can partner with the medical school to address the needs the virus is creating locally, he said.

“Our constituents really understand how important the mission of the medical school is in educating future physicians for our region and in supporting the type of medical research that is being done here,” Mosser said. “It’s been very heartwarming to see the response from the community, from our local businesses and our major donors.”

Community friends, alumni, former medical residents, business organizations, faculty and staff and local foundations are encouraged to donate to the fund. All gifts this year will be matched by the Parfets on a one-to-three basis, meaning that a donor making a $750 tax-deductible gift will be recognized by the medical school as a donor at the $1,000 level. All gifts will be matched through the end of the fiscal year or until the full $150,000 matching fund is subscribed. 

Donations can be made via check, credit card, donation of stock, gifts from donor advised funds, and rollover IRAs. To make a gift or to get more information on the new format for this year’s gala, please visit https://med.wmich.edu/gala, contact Jack Mosser at 269.337.6335 or Courtney Arnold at 269.337.4370, or send an e-mail
to Jack.Mosser@med.wmich.edu or to Courtney.Arnold@med.wmich.edu.