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A Compassionate Response to Crisis

The William K. and Dorothy J. O’Neill Foundation awards funding in eight communities across the country, each of which is near and dear to the heart of an O’Neill family member. Cleveland, though, is where the foundation and the family both got their starts. 

In the 1940s, William O’Neill and his brothers began building a Cleveland-based enterprise of trucking and transportation companies that later became Leaseway Transportation, a billion-dollar company with locations throughout the U.S. and abroad. Meanwhile, he and his wife, Dorothy, raised a family that prioritized charity and civic responsibility. The O’Neill Foundation, founded in 1987 after William’s passing, continues to be guided by these core family values.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S., O’Neill Foundation staff and trustees discussed different funding response strategies at length. “Historically, we’ve had a strong emergency response when disaster or crisis strikes one of our communities, so we knew right away we wanted to help,” said foundation President and CEO Leslie Perkul. “But this is the first time we’ve had a crisis impact all of our communities simultaneously.”

Though modest in size, the foundation voted to allocate $1 million of additional funding for COVID-19 response efforts, divided across the communities they serve. UH received a $117,500 grant, equally supporting COVID-19 Community Response Fund and the COVID-19 Caregiver Support Fund. 

“With our origins in Cleveland, the O’Neill Foundation has a long-standing commitment to this community,” shared Leslie. “And with UH, specifically, O’Neill family members in Cleveland felt a great need to support the health system and its caregivers. Heroic efforts and sacrifices are being made on UH’s frontlines – we know that every dollar makes a difference.”

The latest gift brings the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation’s total giving to UH to more than $1.24 million. Their philanthropy, focused on community health, has provided instrumental support in many areas, including advancing mental and behavioral health initiatives at the UH Rainbow Center for Women & Children. 

University Hospitals is grateful to all individuals and organizations willing to help our caregivers, patients and community during the COVID-19 crisis. Community response and caregiver support funds have been established to support the extensive patient care, medical supplies, research and education needs. 

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