At FirstMed we like to think that running a company is something more than keeping an eye on the bottom line, as any business must do to stay financially healthy. Our founder and managing director Dennis Diokno is a firm believer that this is a two-way street, and FirstMed is obliged to give back to the community that has helped him and his staff succeed for nearly 18 years.
In the business world it’s called “corporate social responsibility”, or CSR, but of course not all companies bother. “I guess you can say that I have always had a philanthropic side,” says Dennis. “While in one way we have done a good job by creating jobs, I have always believed in doing more to help those around us.”
Going back to the very beginning, in its first year FirstMed was lead sponsor in organizing a golf tournament that benefitted Gézengúz, a foundation for treatment and rehabilitation of babies and children with birth injuries, and other charities. Over the years this support has spread to include the Red Noses Clowndoctors, who bring fun and smiles to the sick, the Bátor Tábor (Courage Camp) foundation, the International Women’s Club of Budapest, and as main sponsor for five years of the annual Bonfire Night party put on by the Budapest website XpatLoop, a big money-raiser for Hungarian health-related charities. (Stay tuned: this year’s party is coming up on November 4 in the Marriott Hotel ballroom.)
A number of organizations, then, have benefitted from FirstMed’s charitable activities, and this assistance includes not just financial help but backing by staff, who contribute their time and expertise, for instance if a worthwhile event needs a doctor or nurse in attendance.
Motivating and involving the staff is important to the company, and when the Robert Burns International Foundation organized its annual curling competition (we are talking about the sport here, not hair), FirstMed sent four teams as well as sponsoring the weekend.
Sometimes complimentary health checks can be provided to raise money via raffle or auction prizes. Occasionally individual requests for assistance may be considered, such as for Raphael de Colnet, a young Budapest-based Frenchman who participated in this year’s Budapest to Bamako rally on his motorcycle who was provided vaccinations. The rally in total raised over €600,000 of aid and delivered through West Africa.
“I’d say we have been pretty generous being a sponsor or giving prizes to various organizations over the 17 years but this year I joined the board of United Way Hungary, who we were already supporting, and I have been nominated to represent United Way Hungary regionally, so this is going to become a FirstMed priority from now on,” Dennis says.
United Way Worldwide, based in US state of Virginia, is a non -profit organization that identifies and builds on community strengths and assets, helps individuals and groups with specific community interests find ways to contribute their time and talents, supports direct-service programs and community-change efforts, and advocates public-policy changes. United Way Hungary is celebrating 25 years in the country and there will be a gala dinner in Budapest in October.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
It will be a busy month because October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, when FirstMed is offering a limited number of discounted mammogram/breast ultrasound exams (see offer on the FirstMed homepage), where medically indicated, to women taking their annual gynecological exam at the clinic. This year is no exception and additionally FirstMed is working with the North American Women’s Association on the sale of their “Surviving and Thriving” guide to living in Budapest. The book costs HUF 3,000 and the proceeds go towards buying special chemotherapy chairs for the oncology unit at Semmelweiss Hospital for ladies undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
The health and welfare of under-privileged children is another important concern for Dennis, and FirstMed’s other main focus will be Csodalámpa, the Magic Lamp Wish Fulfilling Foundation, which again FirstMed has already supported for several years, immediately raising around HUF 500,000 in just the first three months of cooperation with the organization, and much more since. In 12 years Csodalámpa has granted more than 3000 wishes made by three- to 18-year-old children who have a life-threatening illness.
At last year’s Spar Marathon, FirstMed employees raised HUF 190,000 to buy a laptop for a boy who has muscular dystrophy and is unable to go to school or attend any social activity. The staff will do the same this year as well. Also for Csodalámpa, this year FirstMed took two teens to Barcelona. One has Hodgkin lymphoma and her wish was to visit the city. The other girl suffers from Crohn’s disease and her wish was to go to PortAventura Resort, which is Europe’s biggest amusement park.
In August, FirstMed staff took two children and their parents to Disneyland in Paris. FirstMed has also given away many items asked for by children helped by Csodalampa, such as laptops and smartphones, an X-box, a fish tank with colorful inhabitants, a home playground with a slide and a swing, and a drum set (the latter may not have been so well received by the ears of those around the child).
“These two, United Way Hungary and Csodalámpa, will be our priorities in future, as they fit our profile in relation to health, either prevention or cure,” Dennis says. “FirstMed doesn’t have to give back to the community but it is what we feel compelled to do members of this community.”