Van Gorden Fund
“People have a need to give,” Mary Van Gorden said. “And it feels good to give to things you believe in.”
Believing is how the Miller-Dwan Foundation Van Gorden Fund set in motion years of philanthropic giving to our community’s comprehensive rehabilitation programs like Polinsky Medical Center and Essentia Health / Miller-Dwan Rehabilitation Services.
The Van Gorden Fund began in 1955 when Mary Van Gorden came to Duluth as a 24-year-old occupational therapist. After only two years as a therapist with the Duluth Rehabilitation Center, then located above a restaurant at 12 West First Street, she took on the task of executive director. The Center eventually became Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center and later joined with Miller-Dwan Hospital. Van Gorden stayed for 25 years all the while believing in each patient’s ability to achieve his or her full potential.
With Mary’s leadership and contributions from the center’s board and the community, the rehabilitation center grew. About a year before Van Gorden left her job at the center to care for her elderly parents, the board established a fund to supplement services for patients. The fund was named to honor Mary, her hard work and her passionate dedication.
To more effectively continue its mission of philanthropy within the community and better utilize donations, the Van Gorden Fund joined in 1997 with the Miller-Dwan Foundation, whose long history of support for rehabilitation made the merger a natural fit.
The Van Gorden Fund of the Miller-Dwan Foundation has played a key role in Essentia Health / Miller-Dwan Rehabilitation Services becoming a rehabilitation pioneer in the region. With funds from the Van Gorden Fund, Essentia Health / Miller-Dwan Rehabilitation Services is a highly CARF accredited rehabilitation center. CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, is a private organization whose mission is to promote quality services for people with disabilities and others in need of rehabilitation. With help from the Van Gorden Fund, Essentia Health / Miller-Dwan Rehabilitation Services has the only CARF accredited brain injury, spinal cord injury and pediatric family center care program in the region.
Today the Van Gorden Fund of the Miller-Dwan Foundation continues to honor Mary by distributing funds three times per year to support internal and community efforts that address our region’s rehabilitation needs.
For more information on how to apply for Van Gorden funding, click here.