The T.J. Community Mission Foundation is looking to the future after completion of the Shanti Niketan Hospice Home and the recent hiring of its first executive director.

Since its inception in 2014, the foundation has raised more than $2.5 million to advance excellence in health care to those served by T.J. Regional Health.

Its biggest achievement and main focus since then has been construction and opening of a hospice center for Glasgow.

After that project was completed in late winter, Randy Burns was hired in February to lead the organization into its next stages of philanthropy.

For Burns, those next steps will concentrate on better serving southcentral Kentucky along with Glasgow.

“What drew me to come here was the vision of the board of directors, which was that this foundation would truly be a regional foundation,” Burns said. “Not only serving Glasgow and Barren County, but surrounding areas as well all the way to Russell County and down to Monroe County.”

Part of that vision is a series of projects the board approved in May.

The first is a $4,500 grant to be used to provide car seats for families in need.

Burns said the program is meant to ensure newborns at T.J. Regional Health have a safe ride home from the hospital.

The second project is applying for a $4,635 grant to support Adair County with the “Stop the Bleed” national awareness campaign meant to prevent deaths caused by hemorrhaging. If approved, raised money will go toward buying tourniquets for police officers in Adair County to carry in case of emergencies.

Finally, Burns said the foundation is laying the groundwork for a “very large” project on par with the Shanti Niketan Hospice Home.

While Burns said he couldn’t give exact details on the project, he said it will focus on pediatric programs.

“One of the things that I noticed when I came in was that the board was excited for what would come next,” Burns said. “We are currently in the midst of a strategic planning process. They are reimagining their goals as a foundation and what exactly they want to do.”

Before being hired, Burns served three years as director of philanthropy for major gifts and planned giving for Christian Appalachian Project. Prior to that, he served for 11 years as the director of alumni relations for his alma mater, Lindsey Wilson College.

T.J. Regional Health Executive Vice President of Marketing Stacey Biggs said his experience with philanthropy has been a significant addition to the foundation.

“For me, it was so important to have someone working on the foundation with the sole purpose that it succeeds,” Biggs said. “I felt strongly that we need that type of experience to the position. He has already made a tremendous impact.”

Biggs said the previous year presented many challenges for the organization due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation’s annual fall fundraiser was canceled.

However, Biggs said the foundation adapted and successfully raised a sizable amount thanks to community generosity.

“We had to rethink the way we operated and conducted events,” Biggs said. “Our fairly large fall fundraiser had to be rethought into a virtual event. Usually it’s attended by nearly 500 people. In the end, we ended up raising more money with how we adjusted.”

Biggs said the foundation is preparing for this year’s in-person fall event, scheduled Sept. 25. More information will be released soon.

In the meantime, Burns said the foundation is in fundraising mode so it can pay off loans used to build the hospice home.

Once the home is paid off, Burns said he has more big plans for the organization.

“I’ve made it very clear to the board: I’m 49 years old, and I have a few more years to work,” Burns said. “It’s my goal that in 15 years the T.J. Community Mission Foundation will be the leading philanthropic organization in southcentral Kentucky.”

– For more information on the foundation, call 270-651-4619 or go to www.tj regionalhealth.org/about-us/foundation.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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