Caring beyond the clinic walls

Committee boosts employee morale by having them give back to the less fortunate
Sept. 14, 2016

By nature, the care givers at UCHealth Longmont Clinic are a compassionate group, but they recently shared their kindness for others outside the clinic’s walls to further help their community.

“I was out to lunch one day and I saw a homeless woman walking. I thought to myself, ‘What could I do to help?’” said Tina Laning, a certified medical assistant for UCHealth Internal Medicine at the Longmont Clinic.

UCHealth’s Longmont Social Committee members, from left, Sara Dufour, Debbie Sarlo and Becky Bacon, get ready to deliver 65 handbags filled with hygiene products to local organizations that help the homeless.

Laning also is a member of the clinic’s Longmont Social Committee, a group tasked with finding ways to boost employee morale. The group has hosted chili and food decorating contests, pancake breakfasts and burrito bars, and coordinated several other internal events since its inception in July 2015.

“This year, we began thinking of new, inventive ways to not only receive but to give back,” Laning said. “We are known for our amazing care for patients, but we wanted it known that we care for all people.”

So the team set out on a mission: to collect as many purses and handbags from their coworkers as possible and stuff them full of hygiene and cosmetic products, such as toothbrushes, shampoo and tissues.

“The donations came pouring in,” said Donna Kimrey Wilburn, supervisor of radiology at UCHealth Longmont Clinic. “We had a whole room dedicated just for those donations. We were able to stuff 65 handbags and had more products than we had purses.”

The donations were distributed by the group to three area charity programs.

“Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley was a logical choice,” said committee member Debbie Sarlo, CT technologist at the Longmont Clinic. “These men and women who are trying to escape abusive situations many times have nothing but the shirts on their backs when they get the opportunity to flee.”

Thirty bags went to Safe Shelter, while the rest went to The Inn Between of Longmont, a transitional housing program for working people living on the streets. The extra toiletries were delivered to Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement. The core program of HOPE for Longmont is nighttime street outreach where homeless individuals get life-sustaining support, such as water, blankets and sunscreen.

“It felt really good to be able to do this within our community,” Wilburn said. “And we want to challenge others to do the same. When it comes to morale, it’s good to put the focus on someone other than yourself. It makes you feel good to be able to give back.”

UCHealth’s Mountain Crest Behavior Health – Fort Collins employees last year also donated hygiene-filled handbags to Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins as a way for its employees to give back.

“Homelessness is a deeply disturbing problem in our country — that dichotomy between our land of plenty and the great need of that often hidden population,” said Debbie Chandler, president and CEO of UCHealth’s Colorado Health Medical Group. “It is all these small and loving efforts pooled together which move mountains.”

The Longmont Social Committee has started another donation drive of blankets and socks. Drop off your donations at the clinic or contact the committee chair at

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.