An Interview with Michael and Frida Donner, Barco’s Nightingales Foundation

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At Tafford, we are working hard to get to know our vendors better. As our relationships build with them, we are able to be a better resource for you when choosing the best scrubs. This is the first blog post in a series focused around our vendors.

We love Barco Scrubs, known for their flexibility, movement, and comfort. But did you know about their philanthropic side? Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Michael and Frida Donner, founders of Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, about their work.

Michael and Frida Donner

Tafford: What motivated you to start Barco’s Nightingales Foundation?

The Donners: For some time we had been trying to think of a way to pay tribute to four people who greatly influenced our lives: Michael’s mother and father and Frida’s grandmother and grandfather. The idea of helping children around the world with severe problems seemed to be a fitting way to honor their lives, their values and the impact they had on us. Through our Foundation, we can make a difference in the lives of children and their families in ways similar to the way they impacted us.

Tafford: Since starting the Foundation, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?

The Donners: Improving the lives of 20,000 children – that’s kind of overwhelming to think about, and by far our greatest achievement. Personally, the opportunity to see first-hand the difference our work has had in making the world a better place, especially for children in need. We never anticipated we would have impacted literally thousands of children so quickly. We thought we’d be influencing and helping many, but we never imagined that our Community of Compassion would provide nearly 3,000 life-changing surgeries with ReSurge International, 300 with camperships to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, and clean water for 15,000 by building solar water wells with Hispaniola Mountain Ministries.

Tafford: How do you select the charities to support?

The Donners: We met Phil Borges, a photographer, who told us about the work he did with ReSurge International on the medical trips where he photographed the stories of life-changing surgeries. We asked for an introduction to the executive director and realized that this was truly an organization that was changing lives.

We first learned about Ronald McDonald House Charities through a business relationship with McDonalds. Then we learned that one of Barco’s employees’s had a child with cancer who had been going to their camp, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times. We knew there had to be a way for us to help send more kids to camp. This started our relationships with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, and ultimately to the camp.

We were introduced to Hispaniola Mountain Ministries through another customer, Phil Little. He told us about his foundation that worked to build schools and provide medical care in Haiti. We asked how we could help and he said that they needed water wells. The people of Haiti were desperate for clean water to prevent disease and improve lives. We told him we would help and since then, we’ve built four wells, each helping about 5,000 people.

All of the charities we support start with personal relationships. It’s vital that we know their stories and hear and see personally how they are making a difference. For each, we maintain a close relationship so we can be certain that the funds we provide are channeled in the right direction.

Tafford: Do you anticipate working with additional organizations?

The Donners: No. This is our style – hands on and intimate. There is only a certain amount of time and energy we can offer. Michael has personally visited the camp, travelled to Haiti and Peru to see our work and to ensure we are making a difference. It’s not just about writing a check, it’s about being intimately involved and working as close as possible to the children being helped.

Tafford: Where do you see the future of the Foundation?

The Donners: Our future is continuing to be supported by our Community of Compassion. This includes our Barco Uniforms family, our supplier community, our families, friends and customers. As we continue to spread the word, this Community of Compassion grows, we have the opportunity to help thousands more children. We have an optimistic and hopeful future. As we realize more success we are able to do even more while continuing to pay tribute to the nursing profession and to nurses throughout the world, and to the amazing work they do. Through our work, we hope to continue to elevate the image of nurses, showcase their professionalism and celebrate their dedication.

Tafford: What do you feel is the greatest need in the nursing profession today?

We would like to see the image and portrayal of nurses in the community, in Hollywood, in the movies and on TV, in the press, and in the public be elevated. People need to understand and appreciate the highly skilled, highly clinical role nurses have as they contribute to saving lives, healing wounds, and bringing a courageous heart as they help those who are ill. They are skilled professionals helping to heal and save lives, and their contributions are made on a much higher level than the image portrayed by Hollywood. Nurses are partners with doctors in healing and saving lives.

Tafford: How can others support and honor nurses?

The Donners: In a national poll, with exception of 1991, the most respected occupation in the United States has been nursing. It’s true that they have support, but we believe their image should be elevated and they should be celebrated. We have an Award of Excellence that is given annually to a nurse who gives back through volunteering. In general, and at the least, we should celebrate and honor nurses during nurse week. Better yet, we all should show support by stepping out and letting the world around us know how important we all think nurses are. Write to the media. Voice your opinion. Tell the media and Hollywood to get it right, to be accurate, and to show nurses doing the work they actually do as partners with doctors.


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