April 22 marks Earth Day, a day first celebrated in 1970 as a way to promote behaviors that help preserve and protect our environment, health, families and livelihoods. Though there are countless ways to draw attention to sustainable practices, team members, patients and the communities served by AdventHealth Wauchula, AdventHealth Sebring and AdventHealth Lake Placid have found that the small act of sipping from a reusable tumbler can make a big impact.
In 2017, Christen Johnson, executive director of the AdventHealth Foundation, West Florida Division – Heartland Region, was inspired by her leader to find new ways to achieve the Foundation’s goals. As the result of a collective team effort and within three months, Johnson developed the Sip and Sustain program, selling tumblers to team members via their facility gift shops. In return, team members receive discounted refills at their facility cafes.
While offering 75-cent refills year round for a $30 tumbler purchase – as well as reusable straws – the program promotes sustainable business practices by replacing Styrofoam cups with reusable options, reducing our carbon footprint and environmental waste.
There’s also a direct benefit for patients and the larger community. All proceeds go to the local AdventHealth Foundations to support lifesaving initiatives.
In the five years since the program began, the Foundation has sold 1,343 tumblers and raised $39,000, which has been used to fund AdventHealth Sebring’s Serenity Circle Garden and the first automated whole breast ultrasound machine in Highlands County, a shade sails installation at AdventHealth Wauchula and current renovations at AdventHealth Lake Placid.
Part of the Foundation’s plans for this year is to raise $5 million to build a 21,000-square-foot wellness center at AdventHealth Sebring.
For team members, the program means more than refills and reusable straws. From starting collections to sharing ideas about tumbler colors, team members have found exciting ways to get actively involved, as well as finding a deeper meaning behind sustainability efforts.
“I proudly display cups I buy every year,” said Melissa Queen, assistant ER nurse manager at AdventHealth Sebring. “Every little bit counts. I’m giving back to my community and to AdventHealth for giving me the greatest job in the world. I had no idea about sustainability prior to working here.”
“The program helps advance our healing ministry and contributes positively to our environment,” said Kevin Grzeskowiak, director of nutritional services at AdventHealth Wauchula, AdventHealth Sebring and AdventHealth Lake Placid. “We are all temporary tenants, simply borrowing what the world has to offer. It is therefore our responsibility to give back what we take.”
"We are all temporary tenants, simply borrowing what the world has to offer. It is therefore our responsibility to give back what we take."
At least one local business also is a big fan of the initiative. William Chen, DMD, is the owner of Chen Dental in Sebring and also serves on the board of AdventHealth Sebring and as board chair of its Foundation. He shows his support by buying tumblers for each of his 36 employees.
“My team and I came on board because of the potential we saw,” Dr. Chen said. “We’re proud to join an initiative that promotes sustainability and impacts lives, and we encourage other local businesses to participate.”
This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet.” Johnson hopes that, in the Heartland Region and beyond, there will continue to be dialogue and collaboration between leaders, team members and communities on healthy lifestyles that are environmentally sustainable.
“If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of the planet,” Johnson said. “Teaching our youth and communities to invest in our planet is part of the wellness initiatives we’re working to implement.”