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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

February 2022

NIEHS employees shatter expectations for charity drive

The theme of the 2021 Combined Federal Campaign was 'You can be the face of change.'

Serena Dudek, Ph.D. “This was one of the biggest challenges of my career,” Dudek said. “I cannot thank my fellow co-chairs and division coworkers enough for their tremendous support in getting us across the finish line.” (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

The 2021 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity drive began last September with the goal of raising $60,000 in donations for people in need. By the time the campaign ended Jan. 15, NIEHS employees hadn’t just met that goal — they’d eclipsed it by more than 40%.

“When CFC 2021 started, we weren’t entirely sure how much support we’d get with this being the second straight year of running the campaign virtually,” said Serena Dudek, Ph.D., deputy chief of the NIEHS Neurobiology Laboratory. “Never could we have imagined that the NIEHS family would show out the way that it did, especially with national giving on the decline.”

In all, NIEHS employees donated $100,761 to hundreds of charitable causes, many of those based in the Raleigh-Durham area. This year’s drive was co-chaired at NIEHS by Dudek; Amy Papaneri, a biologist with the institute’s In Vivo Neurobiology Group; and Negin Martin, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Viral Vector Core.

Giving is personal

CFC’s mission is to support philanthropy through an employee-focused program that is cost-efficient and effective in providing all federal workers the chance to support charitable causes of their choosing.

“I appreciate the ease with which CFC lets us choose pre-vetted charities,” said Papaneri. “We can have our donations deducted from our paycheck over time, then renew and update our donations each year with just a few clicks.”

Amy Papaneri “Getting folks involved to give is definitely challenging, but it’s also extremely rewarding,” said Papaneri. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

One such cause that NIEHS employees can get behind is that of medical research.

“Private foundations and research programs can allow scientists to test new ideas before deciding if a project is likely to be competitive for NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding,” Dudek said. “That process in and of itself takes money, and there are numerous CFC causes that help meet that need.”

Among the areas of research that Dudek cited are autism, addiction, epilepsy, and depression.

“Many of these areas will receive federal funding in the days ahead,” she added. “For others, however, especially the more obscure conditions, funding may not happen without the generosity of others through CFC.”

“I usually just give to my favorite charities through their websites after receiving their literature in the mail,” Martin said. “Now through CFC, I can send those funds to smaller, more targeted groups who will spend that money on people instead of a robust advertising budget.”

Continuing to give when others can’t

NIEHS donations to CFC were merely one part of a larger federal effort to help America’s populations in need. At present count, federal employees have pledged more than $2 million in charitable contributions through this year’s campaign.

Negin Martin, Ph.D. 2021 marked Martin’s first year co-chairing a CFC campaign at NIEHS. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

“When the 2021 CFC began, I saw it as a real opportunity for NIEHS staff to help those who are still suffering from the effects of COVID-19,” said NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., who marveled at the final donation results.

“Other federal employees shared this view and were very generous in their giving,” he said. “We exceeded our goal by a lot, so NIEHS is helping to fight this pandemic with our research and with our charitable donations. Our success with CFC was incredible, and it is a real tribute to the leadership provided by Dudek, Papaneri, and Martin.

(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison, and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)

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