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Vacation donation program helps Elon employees in time of need

Beverly McQueen's co-workers donated their vacation time and gave the coordinator of gift records the peace of mind she needed to beat cancer.

Beverly McQueen, coordinator of gift records, battled cancer, but she is now in remission.

When Beverly McQueen, coordinator of gift records, heard about a sick co-worker in need of more sick leave time, she didn’t hesitate to donate some of her own through Elon’s vacation leave donation program.

That was six years ago. McQueen didn’t know that soon after she would be on the receiving end of the program. Diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma cancer in November 2011, it didn’t take long for McQueen to exhaust both her sick and vacation leave.

It also didn’t take long for her to feel the support of her co-workers. Sara Peterson, who works closely with McQueen as director of donor relations, was one of many to donate vacation time.

“Beverly was so desperately sick,” Peterson says. “We all felt really helpless. When she exhausted her sick leave and vacation time, donating more was something concrete that I could do to help.”

Collectively, staff members donated 63 days of vacation time to McQueen—a donation that was essential to her full recovery and peace of mind. After the initial prognosis, McQueen and her husband were worried they would have to file for bankruptcy since she could no longer work. But McQueen says she experienced “overwhelming support” from her colleagues and the greater Elon community.

“A lot of people stepped up and made it possible for Beverly to not have to worry about her finances,” Peterson says.

Jeanne DuVall, special assistant to the vice president for university advancement, donated time so McQueen would be able to fully focus on getting healthy.

“I didn’t want her to have a lingering doubt in her mind about how she would pay for this,” she says.

It wasn’t just McQueen’s colleagues in university advancement who offered support throughout her battle with cancer.

“It was individual people around campus, the university as a whole, the payroll department and so many more,” McQueen says. “I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive employer.”

In addition to donating vacation leave time, members of the Elon community sent her meals, continuously checked in with her husband and visited her at the hospital, including President Leo Lambert.

“When I first got sick, he came to see me in the hospital,” McQueen says. “And when I came back, he made a special trip to my office just to see me.”

Now, after an active cancer battle from November 2011 to May 2012, six rounds of chemo treatments and a stem cell transplant, McQueen is in complete remission and back at work. While she credits her healing to God, she says Elon was a “lifesaver” during this difficult time.

The vacation leave time she received from other staff members at Elon relieved a burden and allowed her to spend her time and energy on the recovery process. She is one of many who have benefitted from the vacation leave donation program.

Peterson, who contributed time to McQueen, was out of work for almost six weeks due to surgery and says the vacation donation program provides Elon staff members with a chance to help their fellow co-workers.

“If I had needed more vacation time during my recovery from surgery, I know people would have donated to me so of course I am willing to donate to others,” she says. “That’s the great thing about Elon, we really are a family and we take care of each other.”

The vacation leave donation program at Elon allows staff members to donate hours from their accrued vacation leave to help fellow colleagues who have exhausted all or most of their sick leave due to personal illness or the illness of an immediate family member. To make a donation, staff must fill out a form on the human resources website to be approved. Donations can be made anonymously, and the receiving staff member will be credited with additional sick leave. Established in 2008, the program is only available for staff members who earn both sick and vacation leave.

Natalie Brubaker,
4/23/2014 11:30 AM