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Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation Donates $62,000 to UVI's School of Nursing

The representatives of the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation toured both campuses during the week of Dec. 2 as part of their annual visit to the University of the Virgin Islands. The Benjamin Foundation donated more than $62,000 to UVI's School of Nursing in 2012, and nearly $800,000 since 1992.

Benjamin Foundation Executive Director and Board Secretary David Beale and Foundation Administrator and Grant Coordinator Tina Beale met with UVI President Dr. David Hall, Interim Provost Dr. Camille McKayle, and Dean of the School of Nursing Dr. Cheryl Franklin while touring nursing laboratories and student health services buildings on both campuses. Each of the nursing school sites contains equipment, learning materials, videos, computers and assessment materials funded by the foundation. Each of the student health services clinics were previously refurbished with the help of the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation.

This year's $62,000 donation was used to purchase training software, equipment and videos for the School of Nursing, and for nursing students to attend a Health Disparities Conference in October.

"David and Tina are pleased with the selection of new equipment we have integrated into our learning curriculum within the School of Nursing," UVI Major Gifts Director Mitchell Neaves said. "The state-of-the-art simulators and video library were made possible from the generosity of the foundation."

The Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation, formed by St. Croix native and nationally acclaimed songwriter Claude "Bennie" Benjamin, made its first donation to UVI in 1992 for medical school scholarships for UVI graduates. In 1995, the foundation gave a grant to support the Watlington Health Services Unit Refurbishment, followed a year later with a large donation to replace medical and science books in the UVI library after Hurricane Marilyn. In the past 17 years, the foundation donated more than $779,000 in scholarships and support to the nursing program and to support UVI graduates attending medical school.

David Beale praised the University's Nursing Program for preparing well-trained professional nurses to provide high-level nursing care in the territory. "It was Bennie's dream that the people of the Virgin Islands receive the highest quality medical care," He said. "Through our partnership with UVI and the University's partnership with the hospitals on St. Thomas and St. Croix, the University is helping to fulfill Bennie's dream and the mandate of the foundation. Bennie never forgot where he came from and we hope to impart that message to the students of today who are preparing for careers in the health services."

The Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation has also donated approximately $270,000 to the Schneider Regional Medical Center and the Juan Luis Hospital for support of the Benjamin Foundation's Student Nurse Extern Program, which provides training to UVI Nursing students and prepares those students to easily adapt to the hospital setting once they are licensed.

Neaves said that the goal of the Student Extern Program is to retain registered nurses that have graduated from UVI and that there is currently a 90 percent retention rate for those students who participated in the program.

"The Benjamin Foundation's on-going support for the University has provided resources that would otherwise be unavailable to our faculty and students," said Neaves. "Each gift received from the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation makes UVI a very attractive University for aspiring clinical healthcare professionals."

David Beale said that the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation's goal is for the territory to have the best medical facilities, the latest technology and equipment and the best trained healthcare professionals.

"We are in a much better place today because of the long-term, incremental support we receive from the Bennie and Martha Foundation," Neaves said.

For additional information on making a gift to UVI, contact Mitchell A. Neaves at (340) 693-1040 or mneaves@uvi.edu.