For the Trotmans, giving back and community involvement has become a family affair.
The Trotman family has become one of the most steadfast philanthropists at BID Needham, giving first to the campaign to build the Cancer Center and Surgical Pavilion and now supporting the new Outpatient Clinical Center with a $1.5 million gift, one of the largest gifts in the hospital’s history.
Connecting to the community
When Valerie Trotman learned about the next phase of growth for the hospital—the new 37,000 square foot Outpatient Clinical Center—she didn’t hesitate to support expanding access to world-class care for the community to receive cardiac, gastric and orthopaedic services, close to home. As one of the first major gifts to the building, Valerie was drawn to the new pedestrian footbridge that connected the hospital to the new center.
“The sketches of the bridge just looked so beautiful; there’s something magical about bridges,” Valerie says. “There’s a lot of symbolism there—connecting to the community, to patients, to the future.”
“When we think about putting our name on something like that, it’s symbolic and meaningful to us,” agrees Samantha. “It’s our way of saying that this family feels closely connected to the town of Needham, to the mission of the hospital and we’re here to stay.”
There is a thrill in giving back, Valerie feels, and in making the world a better place than it was before you came. One of the many things they appreciate about the hospital is that you can see your impact, large and small. As a board of trustees’ member on the finance committee, Samantha says she looks at the finances: “I know where the money goes! Anything that you can do to offer up your support and then show the way to your kids—that's really what this is about.”
Learning by giving
Valerie and her husband, Alex emigrated to the U.S. from England in 1969. Alex became the Chairman & CEO of Ford Motor Company, and over the years, they both attended many charitable functions. These events sparked a growing interest in the enormity of need and how they could help.
They set up the Trotman Family Charitable Fund to facilitate their charitable donations. Alex died in 2005 and all gifts made from the Trotman Family Charitable Fund are made in his memory.
“My mother and father didn't have the benefit of parents who were anything but just trying to make a living,” says Valerie’s daughter Samantha Trotman Burman. “They've had to make this up as they go along. I've had a lot more guidance with respect to philanthropy, and hopefully my children will as well. It's a lot about doing something that outlives you.”
Family leads the way
Both Valerie and Samantha strongly agree that they must do everything they can to support this hospital, in both large and small ways. “When you’re here, you feel that you're with friends,” says Valerie. “It's like a big family and more personal. I think that concept is just so special, and so important to maintain and strengthen this community hospital.”
Samantha says her children recently asked "Why's the hospital important? We don't use it that much." And she told them, "that’s why it’s important—to know it’s there, four minutes away, when we need it.”
After leaving the for-profit world in private equity and health care, Samantha Trotman Burman became involved in the hospital eight years ago at the recommendation of fellow Dover-resident Carol Lisbon.
Lending your name
Valerie soon became involved with the hospital after learning about the exciting things happening at BID Needham from Samantha. The Cancer Center particularly interested her because she survived breast cancer and spent a summer going into Boston for radiation treatments: “The idea of having people being able to come here for that instead of spending all that time to go to Boston was exciting.”
After the Trotman family, including Valerie, Samantha and her sister Helen, gave a gift to the Cancer Center, the hospital in turn named the Trotman Family Glover Café in their honor. A photo of Alex Trotman hangs over the family’s favorite table in the café.
“The concept of naming buildings and spaces never intrigued me until it occurred to me the influence it has on the kids,” says Samantha. “I kept Trotman as my middle name, but there are no children with our Trotman family name in the United States. When the kids come to the hospital, even if they don't often, they see the photo of their grandfather and remember the special night celebrating the opening of the café together. That to me was much more meaningful than I initially expected.”
The café was an apt choice for Alex Trotman. At Ford Motor Company, he was well known for walking into factories and shaking everybody's hand, so much so that by the end of the day, his right hand would be sore. But he wanted to talk to the people who made things happen; in the Trotman Family Glover Café, physicians, nurses and staff gather among patients and families to enjoy a good cup of coffee, just the way Alex liked to do.
When asked what her late husband Alex Trotman would have thought of the family’s impact on the hospital, Valerie asks her daughter, “I think he’d be delighted, wouldn’t you say?” “Yeah, he'd be tickled pink,” agrees Samantha.