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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

February 2020

NIEHS supports charities across the country

Employees contributed almost $90,000 in money and volunteer time during the latest Combined Federal Campaign.

From September 2019 through early January, NIEHS employees donated nearly $90,000 to charitable groups as part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Each year, federal workers contribute money and volunteer time to more than 20,000 nonprofit groups tackling issues that range from homelessness among military veterans to disaster relief.

Debra King, a medical technologist in the Clinical Pathology Group, helped to organize CFC efforts at NIEHS. “It was hard work, but it is for a very good cause,” she said. “Without the program, there would be a lot less benefits to all of the charities that are out there,” she added, pointing out that across the National Institutes of Health, employees donated almost $2 million.

Debra King holding microphone and standing by stage with balloons King said the CFC allows employees to easily donate to their preferred charities through automatic payroll deductions. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Spreading the word

King and Eli Ney, a biologist in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Branch, organized activities at NIEHS to raise awareness about the program, such as contests involving pumpkin carving, cutest pet photos (see some of the winners in the slideshow below), and holiday door decorations. Other events included the following.

  • A tailgate dip competition started the campaign — Speaking about CFC, Acting Director Rick Woychik, Ph.D., said, “As federal employees, we’re extremely privileged to have this chance to give back to those who are less fortunate.” NIEHS Veterinarian Terry Blankenship-Paris, D.V.M., won first place with her “Chicken Cheese Taco” dip (see sidebar for recipe).
  • A Veterans Day Celebration brought attention to North Carolina charities — Highlights included speeches by local military veterans, raffle prizes, and miniature therapy horses. Thomas Gorry, Ph.D., executive director of Veterans Life Center and a former Marine general, described how the center works to improve the lives of individuals returning from combat.
Rick Woychik sitting at a table with red and white balloons to his left Woychik listened as Gorry discussed mental health and economic problems faced by veterans returning to civilian life. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Helping hands

“No campaign is successful without the people who work to make it happen,” said Ney, referring to individuals across the institute who helped with CFC.

  • Division of Extramural Research and Training: Joel Collinson and Arshya Gurbani.
  • Division of Intramural Research: Debbie Gaffney, Michael Snell, Pinkney Wilder III, and Rebecca Wiltshire, D.V.M.
  • National Toxicology Program: Julie Foley, Lysandra Castro Marquez, Diane Spencer, Ralph Wilson, and Yitang Yan, Ph.D.
  • Office of the Director: Allison Eason, Mary Jacobson, and Angie Tew.
  • Office of Management: Julie Bardo, Paul Johnson, and Arrash Yazdani.
Volunteers working at food tables at event Volunteer servers set up the tailgate dip trays before the event started. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

“This team put forth a truly heroic effort,” said Woychik in a message to employees that celebrated how King, Ney, and the individuals above contributed to the institute’s CFC success.

(Jesse Saffron, J.D., is a technical writer-editor in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)


Maki Nani, Best Dog Mug Shot award The Best Dog Mug Shot award went to Maki Nani. Owner Jonathan Weeks works in the Comparative Medicine Branch. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Weeks)
Tara, Best Cat Mug Shot award The Best Cat Mug Shot award went to Tara. Owner Tansy Gu, Ph.D., works in the Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Tansy Gu)
Frankie, Best-Dressed Pet award The Best-Dressed Pet award went to Frankie. Owner Sandra Vergara, Ph.D., works in the Signal Transduction Laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Vergara)
Sketti, Best Cat Costume award The Best Cat Costume award went to Sketti. Owner Beth Mahler works in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Branch. (Photo courtesy of Beth Mahler)
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