As Chairman of the Board of Governors for one of the busiest of our 22 hospitals, I can tell you a few things. First and foremost is that most of us, (and all of our hospital chairmen) are volunteers. When it comes to the actual amount of donation dollars to the hospital by Shriners, the cost of airline transportation at least twice a month (and often more) are not reimbursed and are not included in what Shriners contribute. My costs are only a small portion of my donations, so to say we all give $5 dollars a year, is to say very little. Besides my time and costs, the last few years, I have donated about ten thousand dollars in checks. I personally do not know any Shriner who are paid for their volunteer work for our hospitals. If you see a funny red hat on a Shriner, then you can be assured he is not being paid money to be there.
So, what do I and others get out of our work? We get to see a child who would never walk... walk again. We see a child who is disabled by burns, able to live a more normal life. We see doctors (who are mostly paid), operate on children... not because the insurance company said they will cover that procedure,... but because they believe in our mission of helping a child live a better life. I will never forget the little 8 year old girl who walked up to me, carrying her child's 'walker', and hand it to me... saying: "Here Mr. Shriner, you can have this. The doctor says I don't need it anymore. Please give it to a child who does need it." I did not show her the watering of my eyes. Yes, we Shriners get a lot out of our work for the hospitals... not everything is counted in dollars.
Our employees are second to none when it comes to the heart they show for our children. Part of that is because that is what we as Shriners look for when we are hiring. Part of it is because we have yet to turn down a child's operation due to insurance reasons. As long as I am Chairman of my particular hospital, we never will... and I am positive that the 22 other Chairmen of their hospitals agree with this thought.
I can tell you that our employees... Doctors, Nurses and the rest of what it takes to run a hospital... believe in our mission, and that is often why they work for Shriners. An under-18-year-old child does not need to be related to a Shriner. In fact, few of them are. They only need to submit an application. Get reviewed by one of our doctors. Have a problem which falls within our specialties. And our doctors believe that they can make the child's life better.
Our largest specialties cover Orthopedics, Acute Burns, Burn Reconstruction and Facial Clefts. There are others, so contacting a hospital of ours can get a parent a better idea, but both our Shriners as well as our employees all want to help all the children we can.
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