Stephanie Walseth is the first Sanford Thief River Falls employee to benefit from the Employee Crisis Fund.

Thief River Falls family benefits from the Employee Crisis Fund

October 29, 2019

As Stephanie Walseth strolled to her car after work on a Friday, her neighbor called with alarming news: Walseth’s house was on fire.

“Where are your kids?” her neighbor asked frantically.

Walseth, a registered nurse care manager at Sanford Thief River Falls Clinic, was speechless. She knew her 12-year-old daughter was at track practice. Her neighbor said she’d run to the house to check on her two other children and call 911.

“So I had to hang up the phone and try not to freak out,” Walseth said.

She talked to her husband next, who said their children were safe and the fire seemed to have started on the deck.

“I said, ‘Just tell me that our house is not gone,’ and he said, ‘It’s gone,’” Walseth recalled.

As she drove toward their neighborhood, she could see rolls of thick smoke billowing into the sky.

“The smoke was so black and there was so much of it, I knew the fire couldn’t just be the deck,” she said. “It had to be the whole house.”

The house was a total loss and nearly all of the Walseth’s belongings were destroyed. The family was devastated.

When Walseth returned to work, her Sanford coworkers greeted her with hugs and words of encouragement, then pointed her to the Employee Crisis Fund.


Employee Crisis Fund

Although Walseth hadn’t heard of this special fund before, she was thankful for a safety net when their family needed it most.

New to the Thief River Falls community, the Employee Crisis Fund provides financial aid to Sanford employees experiencing unforeseen circumstances that significantly affect their ability to meet basic needs of food, housing, clothing and transportation.

Walseth was the first employee in Thief River Falls to receive this special assistance. The fund is supported by members of the Sanford family who give through the Sanford Health Foundation’s employee giving initiative, Giving Back Moves Care Forward, and events like spirit week and the wellness fair.

Thanks to this generosity, any Sanford employee can apply for assistance from the Employee Crisis Fund.

“You never know when you’re going to need it,” Walseth said. “You never know when you’re going to get a call saying your house is burning down.

“I’m so grateful for the support of the community and our Sanford family.”

To apply for funding, contact your local Human Resources office. All applications are anonymous and reviewed by a committee comprised of Sanford employee donors.


Are you a Sanford Health employee?

Sanford Health employees can support this crucial resource by giving through payroll deduction, a PTO donation or a one-time gift at sanfordhealthfoundation.org/giveback.

When the unexpected strikes, gifts help meet basic needs, like food, housing, clothing and transportation. A gift of $10 per pay period, for example, could cover $240 worth of grocery gift cards for a co-worker experiencing a crisis.