Five Questions With: Janis Karam

President of Friends of St. Anne’s Hospital talks about the change in the nonprofit’s operations since for-profit Steward Health Care took ownership of the hospital’s parent. More

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Five Questions With: Janis Karam

"All of our proceeds from the gift shop and fundraisers are given directly to worthy causes in the community."
Posted 9/14/12

The Friends of St. Anne’s Hospital was founded 60 years ago as a nonprofit organization to aid the Fall River hospital in its mission to supply healthcare to the needy within its community. When the for-profit Steward Health Care purchased the Caritas Christi Health Care, a former nonprofit healthcare system, in late 2010, the organization began operating as an independent entity.

President Janis Karam talks about the changes the separation has brought to Friends of St. Anne’s since.

PBN: Have you reworked your structure since separating from the hospital?

KARAM: Until the change of the hospital, we operated under St. Anne’s Hospital nonprofit status. At that time [of the merger] it became a very big challenge for the board of directors and the membership to envision our future. We were not sure how we could continue to operate and fulfill our mission statement. We now operate under own 501C3 and nonprofit status. The gift shop was founded by a small group of doctor’s wives at the request of the hospital. It has always been owned and operated by the Friends of St. Anne’s and continues even today to be managed and staffed by volunteers.

PBN: How has your relationship with the hospital changed since the merger?

KARAM: The hospital administration was very encouraging and helpful to us. They wanted us to continue our work in the community and took on the financial responsibility of financing our legal fees. The hospital continues to help and support us whenever they are legally able to do this under [its] for-profit status.

PBN: What challenges has the separation brought to the Friends of St. Anne’s?

KARAM: The Friends’ biggest challenge has been to change the perception that we are still part of the hospital. All of our proceeds from the gift shop and fundraisers are given directly to worthy causes in the community. We hope to once again increase our membership and welcome back past members. The Friends have changed our mission statement to that of helping those in the community who are in need.

PBN: What fundraising activities are you planning right now?

KARAM: The Friends recently held a Cinco de Mayo event to benefit the Boys & Girls Club and will be holding an Autumn Basket event in November to benefit St. Vincent’s. In December, we will hold our annual Christmas Luncheon. Guests are asked to bring items of clothing for Marie’s Place. The Friends also donates and sponsors riders for the Pan Mass Bicycle ride with funds designated for neurooncology.

PBN: You recently made a $15,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Fall River for its ONE Campaign that supports academic success programs. Why did you choose this organization?

KARAM: The enthusiasm and support received from the staff and children at the Club was remarkable. We also saw firsthand the great work that takes place [there] and the many children and families benefit from it. The board of directors and gift shop staff felt the club met and surpassed our criteria for this donation and support.

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