As a professional yoga instructor, Howard Hospital Foundation board member Sharon “Missy” Radcliffe understands the regenerative value in taking time to pause and reset. So when foundation staff approached her during the COVID-19 pandemic with the idea to establish a new recharge room for the hospital’s health care workers, Radcliffe led the charge for a virtual fundraiser. Utilizing her social media channels and yoga skills, Radcliffe and the team raised almost $50,000 to create a dedicated relaxation space for staff to access health-related resources, including yoga and meditation programs, heathy snacks, and a calming environment.
We talked with Radcliffe to learn more about her history with Howard County General Hospital and what prompted her to lead the fundraiser.
My five children were all born at Howard County General Hospital, which initially connected our family to the hospital. Then 12 years ago, I joined the foundation’s Team Conquer Cancer to help train participants in swimming and running for athletic event fundraisers such as The Columbia Iron Girl Triathlon and Clyde’s 10K.
My husband, Tom, and I have set both financial and service goals each year in our philanthropic efforts. Our support evolves every year to fit where there’s a need and how we can contribute. The hospital community has become a priority. I have dedicated my energy and creativity in connecting with our shared goals. For me that has included involvement such as teaching yoga at the hospital to joining the foundation’s board.
About five years ago, I did a short six-to-eight-week yoga class at the hospital for cancer patients. I would leave that class exhausted, because when you are caring for others who are completely drained of their energy, your energy is what they need. It was a moment for me where I recognized that what these health care workers go through with people who are recovering or receiving treatment is both personal and physical. The amount of energy it takes to care for others leaves hospital workers exhausted just on any average day.
When I taught in-person, masked yoga classes for health care workers last spring during the pandemic, they would come in at the beginning, and it was like they were mentally on a hamster wheel. By the end of the 20 minutes, they were in a different place — reenergized and ready for what was next.
We decided that I would do a 24-hour promotion of our fundraiser on Facebook and Instagram. It was a trial-and-error experiment. I would dance, do handstands, yoga inversions, anything entertaining to get people’s attention. Then I would tell people about the need at the hospital for the recharge room. I would repeat that every hour, and people would tune in again to see what I did next.
It was a way to connect with people who hadn’t known about the hospital’s everyday needs, and there was a nice influx of donations. It also connected two acquaintances of mine who had no previous tie to the hospital. The need for this space pulled on their heartstrings, and they each gave a large sum of money, which ultimately helped put us over the top.
If it wasn’t clear before the pandemic, it should be clear now. Health care workers are the unsung heroes. I really want this room to be a place where doctors, nurses, and staff can go and take a minute to themselves, enjoy a well-being class, get food from the pantry, run on a treadmill. It’s important for them to have a place dedicated to recovery, escape, and self-care. And it’s long overdue.
Our hospitals and the people involved in them matter to our communities. Their wellness equals our wellness.
Topics: Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Howard County General Hospital, Promote and Protect Health, Strengthening Partnerships