Mission driven: Avera partners to improve communities

Aug. 24, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.

Taking care of people goes beyond their own health and well-being.

It extends to where they build their lives.

That’s why caring for the health of communities is part of Avera’s mission statement.

Living that mission takes Avera into over 100 communities as it sponsors and otherwise supports more than 450 nonprofits each year.

“Our health ministry is rooted in the idea of opportunities, and when we can join our strengths with like-minded organizations and improve the places where our customers and employees live, it’s certainly win-win,” said Avera Health president and CEO Bob Sutton. “In Sioux Falls, we have found those opportunities and taken part in some endeavors that really offer rich rewards in terms of community investment and successes.”

Here’s another sign of how Avera prioritizes these efforts: the CEO sits on the mission committee, which guides the system’s efforts and finds opportunities to respond to community needs.

Avera’s relationship with The Banquet in Sioux Falls is a perfect example of how the system looks to lead by example.

“Our employees give their time, and our organization respects the efforts of that team, which is supported solely from donations,” Sutton said. “It’s not just financial support. We have been able to develop relationships with our corporate allies and partners, such as Hy-Vee and Dean Foods, so The Banquet’s overall needs, such as milk, are met in a way that makes the most of every dollar they receive.”

The Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, who sponsor Avera, provide Sutton, the mission committee and the organization as a whole with more than just spiritual guidance and executive leadership. Both orders’ spirit of service is personified in the ongoing projects that Avera seeks out, large and small.

“We see these efforts in community building not just through the big-picture lens but also the individual, one-on-one benefits that come to families that need help,” said Avera senior vice president of public policy Deb Fischer-Clemens, who also serves as a member of the mission committee.

“We have seen the impact that The Banquet makes for children, parents and all who come there to seek nourishment as well as love in action. But it goes beyond that program.”

Alongside Avera’s robust and ongoing sponsorship to organizations such as Volunteers of America or Feeding South Dakota, which serve a number of counties across the state, Fischer-Clemens said Avera employees who donate time and resources also receive something back.

“I can’t begin to count the number of conversations I have had with our employees who have told me about the meaning behind their time shared with Volunteers of America or who have helped Feeding South Dakota projects and came away feeling really good about what they did,” she said.

“There are many communities in need in the Midwest, and while Sioux Falls has many successful families, it has many others who are helped by community support programs. It’s not a back-burner issue – these are our daily concerns. We are providing food or money, yes, but it’s also an emotional foundation on which a better future can be built.”

Avera recently donated funds to build and maintain the new Sioux Falls Veterans Cemetery. Pictured from left: Terry Paulsen, government relations director, Paralyzed Veterans of America; Dr. Barry Martin, Avera physician and U.S. Army Corps veteran; and Stephanie Judson, president of the South Dakota Community Foundation.

Avera supports a wide range of projects in and around Sioux Falls. Some examples include:

  • The new Sioux Falls Veterans Cemetery. Avera donated funds to help build and maintain a new memorial park to honor the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces.
  • Ronald McDonald House. Avera funded renovations to one of its Sioux Falls locations, making it more comfortable for families.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness South Dakota. Avera and NAMI South Dakota’s partnership supports people affected by mental illness.
  • CHARIS Ministries Health Rides, which helps people in need get to medical appointments in Sioux Falls.
  • The Family Visitation Center, which provides a safe place for family visits that can be difficult for children with separated parents.

“When we envision the idea of mission as a health system, we can take it from the spiritual or abstract, and that’s really what we aim to do: provide concrete, pragmatic approaches that make this, the state’s largest city, a better and more beneficial place to live,” Sutton said.

“It’s a blessing for Avera to have these occasions when we can give back, when we can serve as Christ taught us, and lift up those who need us. Our community partnerships give us an even more dynamic means through which we can do the work he calls us to complete. That’s what mission means: living through faith in action.”


Mission driven: Avera partners to improve communities

100 communities, 450 nonprofits, and one mission. Here’s why Avera invests in it.

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