When Pardee Hospital created its own fundraising organization in 1996, Myra Grant left her position at the United Way of Asheville to lead the new philanthropic effort. Sixteen years later, Grant is still working hard for the Pardee Hospital Foundation as its Vice President, Philanthropy and Community Accountability.
But Grant is retiring this month, leaving behind a legacy of successful fundraising. To date, the foundation has raised a total of $29 million for the hospital under her leadership.
Grant says what she will miss the most are the people who have assisted her in her fundraising efforts, from hospital staff and volunteers to those who had a vision for a community hospital decades ago.
“I’ll miss the people that I work with,” she says. “I’ve been lucky to meet most of the families that were here in 1953 who wanted to build the new hospital. Their history and their relationships have really been invaluable.”
As the foundation director, Grant has been instrumental in planning two successful fundraising events held each year, the Tournament of Champions Golf Tournament and Women Helping Women, a program that helps fund healthcare needs for uninsured women.
“In 1998, the incidence of breast cancer in Henderson County was higher than the state and the national average, and so was the death rate,” she says. “Women Helping Women has raised over $1.4 million and has helped our lowest income patients get mammograms, surgery, and chemotherapy. It has helped almost 1,000 people.”
Her work has not gone unnoticed. Grant was recently bestowed with the Athena Leadership Award in Henderson County, an award that honors someone who has achieved excellence in their profession and has actively assisted women to achieve their leadership potential. Grant says the award has special meaning for her because it was given in memory of her late friend, Vanessa Mintz, who helped bring the award to Henderson County.
“It is an international award,” Grant says. “I knew (Vanessa), and that was really special.”
Grant says she plans to ease into the life of a retiree quite nicely. She intends to “play some golf, go to the spa, and maybe sleep late.” When she’s not enjoying those leisurely pursuits, Grant will continue her service to the community as a member of the Western Carolina University alumni board and the Town of Fletcher Planning Board.
One thing is certain, this WNC native is staying close to home in retirement.
“I’ve worked in the region in a lot of volunteer roles,” she says. “Hendersonville, Fletcher and Asheville are all important to me.”