Just desserts: VA leaders get pies in their faces - Milwaukee VA Medical Center
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Milwaukee VA Medical Center


Just desserts: VA leaders get pies in their faces

Tracy Steffen gives Jim McLain pie in the face

Milwaukee VA Medical Center Deputy Director Jim McLain gets a pie in the face courtesy of Green Bay MSA Supervisor Tracy Steffen.

By David Walter
Wednesday, February 3, 2021

What’s better than pie?

How about a pie in the face of your boss – while helping local charities at the same time?

That’s what the Green Bay Health Care Center got late last month after a successful campaign to raise awareness and contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign*.

Green Bay Administrator Tim Deacy and Milwaukee VA Deputy Medical Center Director Jim McLain both agreed to take pies to the face if the Northeast Wisconsin Ambulatory Clinic group could increase participation in the annual fundraising campaign.

And the employees came through.

“We had huge leaps from previous years,” said Kyle Newkirk, an administrative assistant who helped cook up the promotion along with training specialist Mike Gay and program analyst Jason Ward. “We went up on dollars raised and the number of contributors.”

The main goal, Gay said, was to get more people involved.

“It didn’t matter how much they donated; we just wanted to get more donors involved,” Gay said.

The trio kicked off the campaign back in October with a humorous video about cancellation of the annual ice cream social due to COVID restrictions. The trio then announces the pie-in-the-face stunt.

Gay said the idea came from his days in the U.S. Navy.

“Pies in the face were always good, if leadership gets on board,” Gay said, noting that Deacy was open to it.

“They brought it to my attention, and I said yes,” Deacy said. “I told Jim McLain about it, and he said, ‘I’ll take one too.’”

All the NEWAC clinics – Appleton, Cleveland and Green Bay – got involved, and the clinic with the biggest percentage increase in number of donors won the rights to throw the pies. Employees who did the honors were chosen at random from a list of donors.

pie in face
Green Bay Health Care Center Administrator Tim Deacy gets a pie in his face courtesy of registered nurse Rob Bottom.

In the end, Green Bay saw a 17 percent increase in donors, compared to Cleveland’s 13 percent and Appleton’s 4 percent.

In dollars, NEWAC saw a 124 percent increase, from $5,156 to $11,592. And the number of donors went up 333 percent.

The pies were “delivered” Jan. 27, with nurse Rob Bottom doing the honors for Deacy and MSA Supervisor Tracy Steffen handling McLain.

“They had a good sense of humor about it,” Gay said.

The trio said they may do the same thing for the next CFC, considering how successful it was.

“This seemed to be a decent experience. We wanted to have fun,” Gay said, noting the trio was looking for a different way to reach employees. “We wanted to create something fun, not pester people.”

“I think the numbers speak for themselves,” Newkirk said. “I’m not surprised with the results. The goal was to do better than last year.”

“It was creating awareness,” Gay said. “A lot of people didn’t know (about CFC). This shows our generosity to the community.”


*The CFC is the federal government’s annual workplace giving campaign, which supports eligible nonprofit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world. In 2020, VA contributed $4.6 million, eclipsing its goal of $4 million. The Milwaukee VA donated about $30,000, topping its $27,500 goal, while NEWAC’s $11,592 easily beat its goal of $5,500.


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