Bolstering the Battle Against COVID-19

Lisa Vallee-Smith’s generosity to Henry Ford Health System goes back more than a decade.

She first got involved as a member of the advisory board of Henry Ford Medical Center - Cottage in 2009. As a board member, Lisa was inspired by Henry Ford’s then-CEO, Nancy Schlicting, who took the time to attend a fundraising event at her home.

“As a businessperson, I was very impressed with how Henry Ford organized around philanthropy and was impressed by Nancy’s personal participation in the system’s fundraising efforts,” says Lisa, owner of Airfoil, a public relations and marketing firm. “Since then, I have watched Henry Ford and admired the work that has been done, particularly in Detroit through serving an underserved population.”
Because of her longtime involvement with Cottage, it was no surprise that when COVID-19 began affecting southeast Michigan, Lisa and her husband, Jeff, knew they wanted to be part of the community’s response.

“I became aware of all the needs of the hospitals and healthcare workers as the virus took full effect, and I had heard about the drug trial that Henry Ford was undertaking,” says Lisa. “We thought it was time to do something wonderful.”

And wonderful it was: Lisa and Jeff gave a generous gift to Henry Ford’s COVID-19 Emergency Needs Fund, which is being used to support frontline workers, patients and many other needs as they arise. Already, the fund is ensuring that frontline workers have every resource they need to save lives and slow the transmission of the virus in our region.

“I hope our gift helps with whatever the System needs in terms of addressing the pandemic. I hope that it will provide hope and healing to employees, patients and all of the people who are working so hard to find treatments and hopefully a vaccine,” she says.

To Lisa, it’s the frontline workers—and their ability to not only provide care, but to offer comfort and hope—that are crucial in the fight against COVID-19.

“I’ve always thought that as human beings, the most vulnerable we may ever feel is when we’re sick,” Lisa says. “When we’re in a hospital. When we have a disease. And that feeling of vulnerability is so unique and personal and impactful. And yet everyone from the physician and nurse and down to the valet parkers and the people at the front desk, have an ability to make that human being feel much less vulnerable and more comforted and not alone. My husband and I are incredibly grateful for the miraculous work that healthcare workers provide for us all.”

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