Over the course of Keith Middleton's five years on our board, he's learned a lot about the ways our partners at VCU Health impact and save lives every day.
While he's often been inspired, one recent learning experience took him a step further in understanding why he joined the MCV Foundation board and where his passion for VCU Health lies.
Keith's discovery began in fall of 2017 when he and his daughter attended the ribbon cutting at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU's Brook Road Campus.
Keith was drawn to learning about the pediatric mental health facility because he and his business partner, Rich Reinecke, both have faced mental health challenges in their families. The two subsequently requested a tour, and what they saw and heard left them energized and inspired.
Engaging the Entire Family in Getting Healthy
One of the most striking things they found on their tour was, simply, an extra bed. They learned that there is an extra bed in every room at VTCC so parents can stay with their children during treatment.
"The parent, with the child, is part of the solution and part of the treatment," Keith later explained. "We walked out of one of the rooms and I looked at Rich, who was silent. He was tearing up, and I knew what it was. He had dropped off his middle-school-aged son several years earlier at another facility."
At that other facility, Rich said that following the intake process, he and his wife walked out of the unit with no clear picture of what would come next and only a short daily window for visiting.
"There has been little pain greater than walking away from the hospital that night knowing that even if I wanted to, I had no way to get back to my son's side," he said. "Just the simple concept that VCU Health has put together a treatment program where the parent can be with their child through a very tough situation, it all made sense to us. And we found one thing like this after another. From the building's architecture to the recreation areas, educational opportunities and various aspects of the program itself, VTCC is an opportunity for the entire family to engage in getting healthy. What a special place."
Making a Decision to Give, and Inviting Others to Join
At the end of their tour, Keith and Rich were shown the Children's Mental Health Resource Center, which is located just off VTCC's lobby.
"When we were facing these challenges with our families, we as parents didn't know where to turn, and we ended up going out of state," Keith said. "To see this resource center that is fully staffed for every parent and pediatrician to use for getting information and finding guidance through the entire treatment process is phenomenal. There is a place now for parents like us and many others who we've talked to over the years to get answers."
Energized and inspired to contribute, Keith and Rich invited Sandy Lewis, Ed.D., VTCC's executive director, to speak with their employees at Fahrenheit Advisors. "We need to break down the stigma. We need to share that mental illness is real and that there is a place parents can turn to for help," Rich said.
In addition, Fahrenheit set up a fund with the MCV Foundation through an initial grant of $25,000 to support the resource center. Keith and Rich also have begun to share information about VTCC in Fahrenheit newsletters and host fundraisers at their office to support the center.
"My challenge to you is to find your story," Keith said. "What are you passionate about? Everybody has their own passion, so whatever that is for you, do something about it."
If you are passionate about ensuring the best care is available for all of our family, friends and neighbors in Central Virginia, or about supporting the education and research that enable tomorrow’s treatments and discoveries, visit our giving page to learn about the tools we have available to make it easy for you to make an impact.