In 1983, soon after Carol Lavin Bernick brought home her healthy newborn baby, (which was the conclusion of a difficult journey), she was determined to give back to the hospital that did so much for her. By founding Friends of Prentice, she did just that. Patty Henderson, George McCarthy and Dr. Michael Socol were among the first to join the effort. Momentum quickly grew as men and women, young professionals and renowned doctors, and people of all ages and backgrounds came together to support what would become Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital. More about Friends of Prentice
Impressively, Friends of Prentice has raised over $20M since its inception in 1983 and awarded grants to more than 80 researchers and clinical programs. Many of these FOP grant recipients have gone on to expand their work with later stage funding from prestigious organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Splash Magazines Worldwide had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Executive Director Kristen Field about the upcoming virtual fundraiser, a first.
Can you tell me a bit about Friends of Prentice?
Friends of Prentice is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital to fund innovative and leading-edge research benefitting the lives of women everywhere. To date, we have raised over $20 million in funding that has gone to nearly 100 different research projects since we started 35 years ago. We rely solely on donations and our grants have gone to fund projects in the areas of gynecologic oncology, mental health, heart disease, disparities in access to care, diabetes, HIV, uterine and pelvic medicine, genetic biomarker research, home health care outreach and more.
You are hosting your largest fundraiser in the middle of a pandemic with the goal of raising the same amount of money, $750K. How do you plan to do that without a physical gala this year?
In light of COVID-19 and the practice of safe social distancing, we decided to move our 35th Annual gala themed “Still Together, At Home” from a normally 500+ in person attendance event to a completely virtual format. This is our largest fundraiser of the year so we are doing everything possible to create a fun night, at home, for attendees. We will still welcome Chicago’s business, philanthropic leaders and anyone interested in a fun night in, to ‘come together’ virtually to honor the healthcare community. We will be live streaming our event and guests will be invited to make donations throughout the course of the event and we will again be featuring some of the best, once in a lifetime auction items around! Our main goal is to still raise the critical funds needed to award doctors and clinicians the grants they need to continue their life saving research across all areas of women’s health.
Do you think that people are interested in attending a virtual gala?
I do. I think that people are still looking for ways to enjoy themselves at home – whether that curling up in the comforts of their cozy living rooms with a glass of wine and take out or hosting a virtual table of their own to enjoy a more social night out. We are really opening up all options for attendees this year to enjoy the gala as they would like all the while learning about the great programs and work Friends of Prentice does to catapult the future of women’s health, especially when medical research is needed now, more than ever.
Where will money from this year’s gala go?
Funds raised through our gala will go directly to fund the grants review, select and award annually. These grants provide the necessary money needed by researchers to either continue their work or to begin a life-changing research study. We are passionate about women’s health and our gala is our number one fundraiser to achieving our organization’s mission of improving the lives of women everywhere.
What were some of the recent grants you funded?
We had an impressively talented applicant pool this past year. The latest round of grant recipients ncluded funding for six important studies including: research of the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women, fetuses and infants; research of adolescents undergoing egg cryopreservation following cancer treatments and for patients undergoing a female to male transition; a study of human ovarian biology in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; the establishment of a public health and community service program to further educate underserved populations on prenatal care and maternal coping skills; research of antibiotics for severe perineal laceration to prevent infection following childbirth; and a study examining altered enhancer function research in the common syndrome of endometriosis.
How can people learn more about Prentice Hospital, sign up for the gala or donate to Friends of Prentice?
We welcome anyone and everyone to join our gala this year and support the future of women’s health care while celebrating our healthcare heros. The gala is being held virtually on Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. and participants can register at www.friendsofprentice.org/gala. If unable to attend, people can still make a donation – every donation no matter the size, helps us in our mission!
Thanks to Jennifer Podkasik
Photos are courtesy of Friends of Prentice