Aimee Boggs used one of her passions — yoga — to benefit another of her passions.
In September the certified yoga instructor led a class of about 100 people on the lawn of the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, the first time the pristine grass had been used for that purpose. Proceeds went to a nonprofit she supports, Volunteers in Medicine Jacksonville, or VIM, a downtown free clinic for the working poor that is largely staffed by volunteers.
“My idea was to blend my beliefs in the importance of health and fitness with the mission of VIM,” she said. “It was important to me that people could actively participate in a healthy experience and make a connection with the amazing work being done [at the clinic]. It was a beautiful sight to look out to see nearly 100 ‘yogis’ on mats on that gorgeous setting only days after Hurricane Irma had come through. … It was completely magical.”
Boggs, a senior vice president with the Raymond James investment firm, was one of Volunteers in Medicine’s inaugural class of “Women With Heart.” In a unique, year-long fundraising campaign, each of the 11 honorees spent a different month in 2017 working to increase public awareness about the nonprofit and financial support for its mission.
A luncheon last February kicked off the campaign and between ticket and sponsorship proceeds raised $125,000 for the clinic. The women’s collective efforts have since raised an additional $25,000, according to development director Cindy Stoddart Cooper.
The 2018 luncheon kickoff is Feb. 7.
CEO Mary Pat Corrigan credited Cooper, who created the “Women With Heart” initiative, for the “astounding success.”
“I’m thrilled, I’m humbled and I’m very thankful,” Corrigan said. “The inaugural … honorees far exceeded all friend-raising and fundraising expectations we had. Each honoree put their own twist on their month, which resulted in a wide variety of outreach activities. They didn’t just take a leap of faith, they jumped all in.”
Volunteers in Medicine provides free health care to low-income, uninsured working adults and their families at a full-service downtown clinic funded by grants and donations.
About 230 volunteers annually provide about $1.2 million worth of primary and specialty care, dental and eye care, mental-health and nutritional counseling, among other services. The clinic also is a learning ground for nurse practitioners, resident physicians and other health-care professionals in training at area colleges and hospitals.
How the individual “Women With Heart” customize their advocacy is up to them. As a conversation starter during their respective month, each of them wears a $7,000 diamond heart necklace designed exclusively for the cause by Beards Jewelry. The nonprofit is having a drawing for the necklace; tickets are $100 and the winner will be announced at the luncheon.
Hosting the event will be “House of Cards” actress Jayne Atkinson-Gill, sister of Dany Atkinson, one of the 2018 Women With Heart.
“That medical professionals regularly and generously donate their time, and area hospitals, businesses and community leaders partner with this organization is simply wonderful,” Atkinson-Gill said. “In a world where many are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, health care is often a luxury. I’m thrilled to join in their good work and look forward to celebrating my sister and all of the wonderful ladies they will be honoring.”
Being a part of the inaugural group was an honor, said Nicole Thomas, hospital president of Baptist Health South.
“Our community is filled with women leaders who have a heart for our community … who are committed to making our community a better place through volunteering and fundraising for causes that serve our most vulnerable citizens,” she said.
Thomas said she called on some friends to help plan her fundraising activities, which included a reception and clinic tour for people who were unfamiliar with Volunteers in Medicine. Guests heard inspirational comments from a physician volunteer. They also were introduced to a lighted tree that featured ornaments representing a variety of patient services. In purchasing the ornaments, they purchased services for patients.
She raised $10,000.
“It was exciting in that we could do anything we felt would spread the message,” Thomas said.
She and Boggs had some fundraising advice for the 2018 Women With Heart.
“Don’t forget the fun in fundraising,” Thomas said. “Make your events fun, and your friends will want to come and support the cause.”
The women share a “passion for giving back to the community in uniquely different ways,” Boggs said, and the campaign’s goal is to “leverage” all their contacts in the community.
She told her successors to “think of what is a meaningful experience you want to share with others” that will also give Volunteers in Medicine “a voice … to tell their story.”
In addition to Atkinson, the 2018 honorees are Cheryl Barnett, Pam Chally, state Sen. Audrey Gibson, Leslie Gordon, Shelley Morgan, Silvia Pulido, Diane Raines, Estrellita Redmon, Melissa Ross and Elana Schrader.
Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109