CONTACT: Katie Fryman
BOSTON June 16, 2008 Driven by her passion for community health, Maureen DeFuria of Gardner, Director of Information and Financial Systems Analysis, applied her aspirations to use her training and experience to give back to the community and is now the third recipient of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' (BCBSMA) William C. Van Faasen Community Service Sabbatical Program. She will begin her sabbatical in September with The Joint Coalition on Health of North Central Massachusetts (The Coalition).
"Maureen's background and passion all came together in a very compelling proposal to help others in her community," said Fredi Shonkoff, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at BCBSMA. "Our sabbatical program is a unique way for us to support our associates' desire to make a difference, and we are proud to offer Maureen the opportunity to contribute her valuable services to such a worthwhile project."
Maureen will be working out of Heywood Hospital, a sponsor of The Coalition, located in her hometown of Gardner, Massachusetts. A BCBSMA associate for more than 23 years, Maureen has extensive experience in both the health care industry and information technology. Her six-month sabbatical will support The Coalition in its efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of the underserved residents in the region. Her impressive goal of completing a community health assessment for the region, reorganizing the structure of The Coalition, and developing a website to promote the Coalition's work, will contribute to its long-term sustainability.
"I have reached a point in my life where I am very interested in giving back to the community," wrote Maureen in her sabbatical application. "This work is important to the community because they are the ones who will benefit from The Coalition's programs and services."
BCBSMA's Board of Directors created the sabbatical program in 2005 to honor the company's former CEO, Bill Van Faasen. The William C. Van Faasen Community Service Sabbatical Program allows one employee per year a leave of absence to work for a charitable organization in the community for a period of three to six months. Last year's recipient, Scott Harrington, completed a successful 6-month sabbatical at the Veteran Administration health system. He worked to help improve programs for soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who were disabled during their service.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ( http://www.bluecrossma.com ) was founded more than 70 years ago by a group of community-minded business leaders. Today, headquartered in Boston, BCBSMA provides coverage to more than 3 million members, 2.5 million in Massachusetts. BCBSMA believes in rewarding doctors and hospitals for delivering safe and effective care, and in empowering patients to take more responsibility, become educated health care consumers and become stronger partners with their doctors. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.