Vol. 12 No. 6 - January, 2010

Give and take

The Emergency Assistance Fund has touched the lives of recipients and donors alike

When it comes to helping others, a little can go a long way, especially for fellow employees experiencing financial distress. Foregoing just half a day of vacation could help keep someone from losing their home, save a job by keeping someone’s car on the road or provide funds for an unanticipated repair made necessary by a storm. Over the past year, 213 UMass Medical School employees made that choice and changed the lives of 49 of their colleagues.

Over the past year,

213 UMass Medical School employees . . . changed the lives of 49 of their colleagues.

Introduced last February, the UMMS Emergency Assistance Fund, which is available to benefitted employees of the UMass Medical School community, raised $44,883—the value of the 838 vacation hours donated by employees who care deeply about the well-being of their colleagues. Designed to help address a financial need that is temporary, sudden and non-recurring, the fund provides limited monetary assistance when an employee is unable to meet an immediate, essential expense and has exhausted other available avenues. Grants of up to $1,000 in a 12-month period are available. These are not loans and don’t require repayment (but they are treated as regular income, and are subject to ordinary income tax withholding).

Similar to the Sick Leave Bank, in which many employees already participate, employees may voluntarily contribute up to four hours of earned vacation time per year, which is then converted to a net cash value and contributed to the fund. Employees may also make direct cash donations to the fund. The second-annual Emergency Assistance Fund Drive takes place the week of Feb. 22 through 26. A simple form, available on the HR Web site, is all that’s necessary to donate.

The Employee Assistance Program coordinates the Emergency Assistance Fund, serving as a liaison between employees and the Emergency Assistance Committee, and manages the application process to ensure confidentiality for individuals who apply for assistance. Employees are encouraged to read the policy at inside.umassmed.edu/uploadedFiles/EmergencyAssistanceFundPolicy.doc, and to contact the EAP at ext. 6-1327 with questions.