When Linda Erceg, R.N., M.S., PHN, Associate Director of Health and Risk Management (HaRM), saw the golf cart displays in front of the Bemidji Chrysler Center, she had a spark of inspiration. Instead of driving by she decided to swing in and ask the manager, Jim Fankhanel, whether he’d ever thought of donating to Concordia Language Villages.
“He probably was thinking, ‘What in the heck is this woman doing asking about golf carts?’” says Linda. “But I’ve been doing business with the dealership for thirty years, so he knows me.”
Jim pointed out that, “The Language Villages are a good asset in our area, a respected institution that’s been bringing people into the area for a lot of years. They also buy vehicles from me. I appreciate that. I hadn’t given thought into donating, so when [Linda] came in I thought I’d make the contribution there.”
Linda and her assistant in HaRM are constantly hauling supplies from one Village to the next in Bemidji, Minn., so when she saw the golf carts she realized one would make their jobs much easier come summertime.
“We’re always schlepping things, and the alternative is a vehicle, but for relatively short runs a more efficient vehicle makes more sense,” says Linda. “The golf cart runs on electricity, which makes it very quiet and energy efficient for the short runs between Villages, carrying extra bandages and aspirin between storage, distribution, and each Village”
She followed up with a letter two weeks later and again at five weeks to the Bemidji Chrysler Center, asking the manager if he had thought any more about donating to Concordia Languages Villages. Finally, Linda heard her name being called in the grocery store. It was Jim Fankhanel, telling her he wanted to donate the golf cart to her program.
“I gave thought to it for a while, saw her in the grocery store one day, and said, yeah, we can do this,” Jim says. “We had a good year here, so we were in a position to do it.”
“Here I was in the middle of the grocery store on a Sunday, buying bread and not at all prepared for that kind of discussion!” Linda says.
The cart arrived two weeks later, complete with cargo box, extra battery, and electric charger. They call it “The Chariot,” envisioning its usefulness at getting people and supplies comfortably from one spot to another.
“It will help primarily in moving stuff,” says Linda, “and once in a while it will be a people mover. Carpe diem, right?”