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Michael Roberts Rejoins the Foundation Board

After Michael Roberts’ first wife, Randee, died of an aggressive type of brain cancer in 2006, Michael wanted to show his appreciation for the care she received at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In an act of gratitude, he established the Laptop Outreach Fund at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. The fund's purpose is to buy laptops that family members can borrow while spending long hours in the hospital with their loved ones.

At the time of his gift, Michael knew very little about the broad scope of work the Foundation supports. That soon changed after Foundation board member Ken Steinback asked Michael to join the board in 2014.

“At first, I was reluctant to join the board as I was busy with my business,” says Michael, co-founder of Candyrific LLC, a novelty confectionary manufacturer and distributor. “But I ended up happily saying it would be a pleasure.”

Since 2015, he has devoted his time as an engaged and enthusiastic Foundation board member.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” he says. “Most of my time has been spent on the Stewardship Committee, where we oversee grants made from various Foundation funds. I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact of the generosity of so many people, no matter the size of their contribution.”

One of the significant ways the Foundation helps is by providing physician-scientists with hard-to-obtain early research funding for potentially groundbreaking projects. This seed money allows researchers to generate preliminary data needed to apply for larger research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. These awards open the door to new advances in medicine.

“It is so exciting when a doctor lets us know that the funds we provided have now multiplied tenfold and we are on our way to a new cure,” Michael says.

But what he finds most rewarding is approving community grants.

“These include grants to mom-and-pop organizations working with a dedicated purpose, fully committing their time and energy to bringing badly needed services to our community and most important, the underserved parts of our city,” he says. “The awards also go to larger organizations that focus on homelessness, mental health, drug addiction, and all the disparities of our city to make it a stronger place to live. This makes me extremely proud of our work at the Foundation.”

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