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MetroHealth System encourages emerging professionals to join forces

By Holly Hammersmith  |  Photo by McKinley Wiley

With so many opportunities for networking and volunteerism in Northeast Ohio, for Nick Alexander, it was paramount to partner with an organization he truly believed in.

Enter the MetroHealth System.

“Metro is where my wife and I receive our healthcare, and we were going through some child education classes there when she was pregnant, and I was just really moved by the people,” he says. “When our daughter was born, it was one of the craziest days you could ever imagine. The staff and the people were just phenomenal and it really resonated with me.”

MetroHealth N.E.T. (which stands for Now, Every day and Tomorrow) is part of MetroHealth Foundation Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports the hospital system. Alexander is chair of the group, which is structured with an executive committee (or core group) of about 15 to 20 people. An additional 50 or so people are associate members of the group. The goal is to grow that number to at least 100 members within the next year, Alexander says. The group was organized in 2013 and kicked off publicly in May of 2014.

“Our vision is to create a group of emerging professionals that are civically minded and who are committed to advancing MetroHealth’s mission,” Alexander says. “It’s really a group to network, to get some professional and personal development, to meet some people.”

Meaningful volunteer opportunities are at the heart of MetroHealth N.E.T., from members collecting blankets and crossword puzzles and delivering them to families receiving trauma care, to members supporting a foster care program within the hospital.

Alexander says his involvement came after he was first approached to be a part of a similar group within another healthcare system. However, he personally did not see a connection with that group. Meanwhile a group within the MetroHealth system to engage young professionals in Northeast Ohio was forming.

“I reached out to the foundation because I wanted to get involved where I had my healthcare,” he says.

Members of this group come from various companies and backgrounds. Alexander is an account vice president and senior wealth strategy associate with The Personal Wealth Management Group at UBS Financial Services.

“There’s some MetroHealth employees involved as well. It’s a really good mix of people from everything from KeyBank to someone who owns a salon, so it runs the gamut of individuals who were either touched by MetroHealth or recognized MetroHealth as an important asset in the community and wanted to do what they could to promote the mission and help them move forward,” he says.

In addition to volunteer work, members of the group participate in social events, from an annual volleyball tournament at Whiskey Island to networking events and happy hour gatherings and a Cleveland Browns watch party. Events take place throughout the city but are usually close to MetroHealth’s main campus downtown.

In 2016 the group will have a special “gala after dark” event on May 21 that is geared toward young professionals. The event will be open to both members and non-members of the group. A young professional will be awarded the first David C. Jacobs Emerging Leader Service Award at the event as well, Alexander says. The award goes to a member of the community who is a role model for service to others and strives to make the community a better and healthier place.

Associate members of the group pay a $20 annual fee. This fee also gets their name published in the MetroHealth annual report. Event fees vary, but sometimes members simply bring a donation item to gain admittance.

“I’ve been involved with a number of organizations and this is by far one of the most diverse and interesting collections of people,” Alexander says. “From background, from sides of town, to ethnicity, it’s a really good mix of people. Our typical member is a young professional in Northeast Ohio that’s just looking to make a difference, looking to meet some people that are like minded and have a positive impact on a very important institution.”

Most members of MetroHealth N.E.T. are in their 20s or 30s but Alexander says there really isn’t an age cap to join the group. New members are typically found through word of mouth and recruitment at the group’s events. The group’s members and target audience are professionals in Cuyahoga County, where most of MetroHealth’s facilities are also located.

Alexander isn’t the only member of the group to have been impacted personally by the MetroHealth system.

“A lot of the people in the group also have been touched by the services of MetroHealth,” he says. “We have a trauma survivor as part of the group.”

Events put on by the group will continue to have that personal touch, Alexander says.

“We’re trying to be more than just planning happy hours or networking events. We really are touching the lives of the people that MetroHealth serves and I don’t think there are a lot of groups in town that you can do that,” he says. 

For more information: metrohealth.org/net

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