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Rebuilt children’s hospital bears volunteer’s imprint

If you run a non-profit organization and you want it to make a positive difference in this world, you want Mark Siewert on board.

When Siewert’s son, Mark Daniel Siewert, spent time in the pediatric intensive care unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital in 2001 and 2002, Siewert decided to support the hospital—and he did it in a big way.

The memory of his son—whom Siewert calls “my hero, my inspiration and the reason I have done most of my volunteering”—prompted Siewert to become a longtime member of the hospital’s board of directors, serving as chairman from 2010 to 2015.

“As board chair, he literally made a daily commitment of his time to the children’s hospital. He treated his board duties as a second job, as if he was being paid for what he was doing for us,” said Scott Rasmussen, assistant vice president for the University of Rochester Medical Center Advancement.

“It has taken many years to envision the facility for a new children’s hospital, design it and create a plan for fundraising to finance it. Everything we’ve done, his fingerprint has been on this in every way,” Rasmussen said. At $145 million, the new GCH is the biggest capital project in UR’s history.

Through Siewert’s stewardship, the campaign drew 14,000 contributor gifts to the building, including 138 named-space gifts. Siewert’s investment of money, time and leadership has delivered an extraordinary gift: a children’s hospital that provides world-class care for thousands of patients each year and for many decades to come.

Although the new GCH is certainly the largest of his contributions, Siewert has pursued philanthropy in other ways, including the new pediatric ICU, which opened in 2004, and the William and Mildred Levine Pediatric Surgical Suite, which opened in 2006. The hallway leading to the suite, filled with blue skies, kites and butterflies, is a calming space for children entering the facility and is named in honor of Mark Daniel Siewert.

Siewert also has been involved in campaigns at Mary Cariola Children’s Center, new riding stables at Heritage Christian Services and One Mt. Hope, the new home of Bivona Child Advocacy.

“They all have meaning for me because of what they do for the children of our community,” Siewert said.

Siewert has stepped down as board chairman at GCH, but his volunteer days are far from over. He remains a member of the board and serves on the executive committee. He also is vice chairman of Bivona’s board, and he serves on Mary Cariola’s campaign cabinet committee.

Siewert serves on the board of directors and the compensation and investment committees of Cummins-Wagner Co., which owns Siewert Equipment Co., his family’s business.

“Despite what tragedy our son and entire family went through, I am a pretty lucky guy. I feel the need to give back to the Children’s Hospital, to all the caregivers and to the Rochester area,” he said. “I also had the opportunity to work with some very intelligent, hardworking and caring people and see what can be accomplished when we group our skills and work together.”

Siewert thanks his wife, Marcia—whom he calls his best friend and the “absolute best mother their sons could have asked for”—for her support in all of his activities. And he thanks his son, Christopher, his “love, pride and joy.”

Like most volunteers and philanthropists, Siewert is quick to hand off the credit. Although he does need to see the results of his efforts, he considers volunteering a privilege, perk and honor.

“Most volunteers get more out of their efforts than they put in. I am certainly in that group,” Siewert said.

Haverly Marie Erskine is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

3/18/2016 (c) 2016 Health Care Achievement Awards Special Section. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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