Northwest Credit Unions Fund Doernbecher Neonatology Endowment

Kelly Schrader, SVP/Chief Operations/Risk Officer at OnPoint Community Credit Union, helps to “knight” Dr. Bob Schelonka as the Credit Unions for Kids Neonatology Chair.

As dozens of medical and credit union professionals gathered to celebrate the Credit Unions for Kids endowment of Dr. Bob Schelonka at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, a two month old baby boy named Reed nestled comfortably in his carrier, seemingly oblivious to the festivities. Seeing the healthy baby sleep through the event, one could not help but marvel at the miracles worked day in and day out in the storied hospital, and the people and fundraising making it possible.

The $1 million endowment is the latest in a string of legacies created by Oregon and Southwest Washington credit unions since Credit Unions for Kids was founded in 1986. Now the national credit union movement’s “charity of choice,” it has raised approximately $130 million for the 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the United States.

In teeing up the event, Doernbecher Foundation Executive Director Jim Ervin delivered heartfelt thanks for “the compassion and kindness of our Credit Unions for Kids partners.”

“There’s not a place in Doernbecher that doesn’t bear the stamp of Credit Unions for Kids and that hasn’t seen the amazing results of their philanthropy,” added Dr. Dana Braner, chief of Doernbecher’s division of critical care. “I believe that with Bob’s endowment they have outdone themselves.”

An Accomplished Physician With Big Dreams for Children

Dr. Schelonka has been actively growing the academic and clinical programs since taking the reins of the division of neonatology at Oregon Health and Sciences University in 2009. His research focuses on the developing immune system and newborn infants’ unusually high predilection to infection. He finds his greatest satisfaction, however, at the bedside of his young patients, and teaching the next generation of neonatologists how to care for them.

“They heard the soft cries of the babies needing help, and they came through.”
— Dr. Bob Schelonka

“The babies and families that we care for don’t have a strong advocacy voice in general,” Dr. Schelonka said, but added that Credit Unions for Kids has become that voice. “They heard the soft cries of the babies needing help, and they came through. They came through in a huge way.”

Schelonka called the endowment “a remarkable and inspiring gift for Doernbecher as well as for neonatology.” He said the Credit Unions for Kids’ endowment will help to support biology, research, technology and “teaching the next generation of physicians caring for babies, and will help us learn how to better care for the tiniest of babies.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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