Fundraising Campaign Beats Challenge Goal, Raises $63,000 In Total For Nutrition Programming

Donors to Wheeler honored retired President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Walkama, LCSW, by contributing more than $38,000 in her name, spurred on by the challenge of an anonymous $25,000 matching gift. The total raised to support the program, between the match and the contributions, exceeds $63,000.

Walkama retired on November 1 after nearly 40 years at Wheeler, including more than a dozen as president and chief executive officer. Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA, was appointed president and chief executive officer on November 2.

The matching gift campaign raised support for Wheeler’s nutrition programming, which Walkama envisioned and implemented. The anonymous gift, from a longtime supporter and dedicated former Wheeler trustee, matched, dollar-for-dollar, gifts made in Walkama’s honor for the program, up to $25,000 in total, through December 31, 2019. Sixty donors gave to the challenge.

“Susan’s legacy are the families who are better because of her vision of whole-person health,” the donor says. “I’m so pleased dozens of Wheeler’s friends and supporters joined in recognizing Susan’s remarkable leadership, and to have it support something she cared so much about is a truly fitting tribute.”

“I’m humbled and honored by the support of our friends,” said Walkama. “What we all—our trustees, donors, staff and the community--created at Wheeler is a tremendous point of pride for me. Seeing it extended and supported through donations is very moving, and I can’t wait to see what is to come.”

The nutrition program launched in 2018 with the opening of the Wheeler Family Health & Wellness Center in Hartford, and accelerated in 2019. An on-staff nutritionist serves on Wheeler’s integrated care team, assisting patients with diet, diabetes management, nutrition counseling, and more. In addition, a toddler nutrition program attracts patients and their families for interactive cooking demonstrations and lessons in healthier recipes, addressing food allergies, and related topics. Wheeler also works in partnership with Holcomb Farm of West Granby in their Fresh Access program, which provides two tons of farm-fresh vegetables a year to Wheeler patients, many of whom do not have access to affordable, accessible fresh produce near where they live.

“We know that we can’t address a patient’s overall wellness without considering their nutrition, or without addressing chronic conditions like diabetes,” said Trocchi. “Thanks to our donors and friends, we can continue to expand nutrition services to serve more people and more families. It’s no exaggeration to say that innovative approaches to health care like this today will help generations to come.”

Programs are held at the Corsini Kitchen, on the campus of the community health center, thanks to the philanthropic support of the Corsini and Brantner families. Raymond Corsini was Wheeler’s longest-serving trustee, and was passionate about food, gardening, cooking, and healthy diet.

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