Donor Profile – Anne Pearce Worrell
Anne Pearce Worrell has always known that Shepherd Center is a special place.
Growing up in Atlanta, she heard all about Shepherd from her parents, Libby and Gene Pearce, who were both actively involved at the Center. Her sister, Elizabeth, co-chaired Derby Day and is an Advisory Board member. Before she could even walk, Anne played with her toys on Shepherd’s gym floor in 1979 while her mother visited a friend who was one of the first patients at Shepherd.
“Shepherd was a big part of our family life,” Anne says. “I knew that I would get involved in some way when I was older.”
She probably never imagined how involved. Since 2002, Anne has served as an employee, donor and volunteer.
She came to work for Shepherd right out of college, starting in 2002 as a database manager in the Shepherd Center Foundation. She was later promoted to major gifts associate, then moved into event management, where she managed Shepherd’s Derby Day fundraiser and even became one of its sponsors – starting at the $500 level and increasing her commitment each year.
“I helped sponsor every event I ran because I wanted to lead by example,” Anne says, adding that the example was set at home. “My parents taught us that no matter how much money you have, you have to give back. So it was just natural that I would want to give to Shepherd.”
While a Shepherd employee, Anne became well acquainted with Shepherd’s Junior Committee, a group of young professionals ages 23 to 35 who meet monthly and plan Derby Day. For Junior Committee members who rotated off the working group but expressed an interest in finding a way to stay involved, Anne created the Shepherd Center Society, which sponsors several key fundraising events.
“Up until that point, we didn’t really have a place for people in their 30s and 40s who wanted to be as active as they were on the Junior Committee,” she explains. “The new Society represented a way to keep our existing volunteers engaged as well as to pull in new members and create awareness for Shepherd among that age group.”
After getting married in 2011, Anne left Shepherd to focus on new endeavors. But while she left the job, she didn’t vacate the hospital.
“Shepherd will always be a part of my life,” she says, “and I still want to feel like a part of that family.” She’s now a hospital volunteer, helping to support families of patients in a variety of ways. And this year, she’s chairing the organization she founded – the Shepherd Center Society.
Dean Melcher, director of development operations for the Shepherd Center Foundation and Anne’s former supervisor, says she will always be an integral part of Shepherd.
“As an employee, Anne set a great example by volunteering her time with the Junior Committee, financially supporting the event and the Center’s programs, and even including the Center in her estate plans,” he says. “She is a fantastic supporter of our patients and families, through volunteering, donations and advocacy.”
“People ask me, ‘Why should I give to Shepherd over other hospitals?’” Anne says. “I tell them, ‘You hope you never need it, but it’s there if you do.’ And it’s only there because other people believed in it. It’s a place where patients regain their independence and their hope. It rebuilds their lives and their family.”
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.