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July 15, 2021

New Team Members Connect With Volunteerism

ThedaCare Orientation Program Launches ‘Origami Doves’ Project

When a new team member joins ThedaCare, they not only spend time settling into their new role, and they also immediately begin implementing ThedaCare’s mission of improving the health and well-being of the communities served.  

Through a special orientation program, new ThedaCare team members get to know the organizational culture by working together on a volunteer activity. This year, new team members have been folding origami doves that are placed on patient meal trays with a special message of hope and comfort.

“It’s a great way to help new team members immerse into ThedaCare’s culture and mission, said Jean Blaney McGinnis, ThedaCare Employee Volunteer Program Coordinator. “We really wanted to have way for team members to live what we do – serving others – so we created an opportunity where they could spend some time doing something for someone else right away. It benefits new team members by creating a sense of purpose and well-being, knowing they’re making a positive impact on our patients and communities.”

Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, is centuries old, and the dove is a traditional symbol of peace. New employees receive a kit including five pieces of origami paper decorated with ThedaCare colors, its logo, and the words “Hope, Love, Comfort” printed on it. Team members assembled the doves on their own with the origami dove activity kits sent by interoffice mail to team managers to distribute.

Once the birds were finished, they were placed on meal trays along with an encouraging message for the patients.

“When new team members have finished folding the doves, they also have the option to keep one to display at their desk,” Blaney McGinnis said. “It’s a symbol of their connection to the ThedaCare team and the organization’s mission, and a reminder of their kindness to others.”

Lindsay Fenlon, who joined ThedaCare’s Human Resources team in June, said she found the origami dove program to be an innovative way to connect new team members with ThedaCare’s culture despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It also clearly emphasized the focus on patient support and care,” Fenlon said.

Fenlon laughed as she explained she had some trouble folding the doves initially.

“I quickly realized I was not hired for my origami skills,” she said. “I finally made a beautiful dove on my third attempt, after watching an instructional video.”

Fenlon considers what she learned from each attempt at folding the dove: Even simple things can deliver an incredible impact.

“In health care, an ever-adapting field, we need to rely on all forms of instruction and learning to reach our goals,” Fenlon said. “It’s a simple project that directly connects to what we do every day.”

The project also was a reminder that it’s okay to seek assistance.

“ThedaCare calls us ‘team members’ for a reason,” she said “It takes all of us working in the same direction to deliver the promises of our mission.”

Past orientation projects have included assembling fleece blankets for distribution to area nonprofits to help children who have experienced trauma. Normally, this orientation activity also provides a way to get to know and connect with other new team members.

“Once the pandemic started, things obviously shifted,” Blaney McGinnis said. “We had to come up with a new way to do things, and it is inspiring to see the results.”

The origami dove project is connected to ThedaCare’s Employee Volunteer Program, which allows team members to earn up to $200 per year to give to their favorite charity in ThedaCare’s service area. 

ThedaCare saw that simple acts of kindness like the dove project were an important part of maintaining the social health of the community during the pandemic. While COVID-19 has curbed some volunteer activities, many team members have continued to serve on boards or committees or shared their time distantly and safely in other ways.

Even during 2020, ThedaCare still managed to meet community needs.

“We saw lots of examples of people helping neighbors, whether it was buying groceries, shoveling driveways, or writing cards and messages to just help people feel connected,” Blaney McGinnis said. “The origami dove project is part of that effort as well, helping to improve the health of the community by providing some encouragement and joy.”

There have been other examples as well. During Make-a-Difference Day in October 2020, more than 370 ThedaCare team members and their families participated in projects or on-site activities, such as creating sidewalk chalk drawings with inspirational messages or helping with fall yard cleanup at 20 long-term care facilities.

In January 2021, ThedaCare partnered with Feeding America to distribute 15 semi-truck shipments of healthy food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to address the increase in food insecurity within our communities, Blaney McGinnis said.

“Now, more than ever, the pandemic has elevated the need for social connection,” Blaney McGinnis said. “The volunteer program recognizes the potential our team members have to create fulfilling relationships and social support, positively impact their own health and well-being, as well as friends and neighbors.”

In an average year, ThedaCare team members contribute about 67,836 hours of volunteer service to 450 non-profit organizations, an equivalent to 38 full-time employees valued at $1.7 million to meet community needs.

Image Captions:

Photo 1: Through a special orientation program, new ThedaCare team members get to know the organizational culture by working together on a volunteer activity. This year, new team members have been folding origami doves that are placed on patient meal trays with a special message of hope and comfort.

Photo 2: Message of hope that is included on patient trays with the folded origami dove.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care

Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.