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Do Good Fest Makes Good

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The National Life Group lawn teemed last year with thousands of smiling faces and tightly packed bodies anticipating the performance of singer-songwriter (and American Idol winner) Philip Philips. Inflatable beach balls bounced through the air, as Philips sang the first few lines of “Home.”

It is easy to get lost imagining all of the fun activities available at the 2019 Do Good Fest on July 13 at the National Life Group lawn, but Do Good Fest is more than fun and music. According to Ross Sneyd, co-chair of Do Good Fest, the purpose is to demonstrate National Life Group’s stated corporate values: “Do Good. Be Good. Make Good.”

What actual good does the festival do? It turns the proceeds over to the Branches of Hope cancer patient fund at Central Vermont Medical Center. In fact, the insurance company helped to build the National Life Cancer Treatment Center at the hospital. “This is designed to Since the festival’s debut five years complement that by getting financial ago, Do Good Fest has raised nearly $135,000 for Branches of Hope, with last year’s take totaling $36,000. The money for Branches of Hope is raised through attendees buying parking passes, festival T-shirts, and Do Good Packages, but not ticket sales, because attendance is free.

Interest in this year’s edition is already high. According to the festival’s website, all Do Good Fest Packages—including parking passes, $10 meal voucher, totebag, T-shirt, and other goodies— have sold out. The festival is still offering Do Good in a Pinch Cinch Bags, with the pass, T-shirt, and swag only.

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National Life Group covers all event expenses from its corporate budget so that proceeds can go to patients. It also relies on volunteers. “We are able to keep the costs relatively manageable because we have a lot of employees who volunteer to put on the festival. We have a core planning committee of about six people who meet throughout the year to plan the event. And

on the day of the festival, we have in the neighborhood of 100 employees who volunteer,” Sneyd added, “The City of Montpelier has also been very generous in working with National Life on the event.”

Theresa Lever is the patient navigator in the cancer program at CVMC. Since the advent of Do Good Fest, Lever has seen a significant change in the amount available in the Branches of Hope cancer patient fund. “For several years we built the fund by our own fundraising,” she said. “Basically, by that I mean a couple of bake sales a year. It wasn’t a very robust fund, but it was nice to have it because people who have been diagnosed with cancer, many of them experience real, serious financial difficulties as a result of the cancer and the cancer treatment.” Its main goal is to help cancer patients afford basic necessities while receiving treatment, which can be especially important when a cancer patient is too ill to work.

“We have a patient who has an incurable cancer who is in treatment all the time,” Lever noted. “We use this fund once a year to buy firewood for that family. That is what they ask us to use it for because before this person was ill, the family used to cut all their own wood.”

Since National Life Group began the festival, the fund has grown significantly. “Since National Life has been having the Do Good Fest, and selecting the Branches of Hope Fund as the beneficiary each year,” noted Lever, “we haven’t had to hold bake sales anymore, which is really great.”

Do Good Fest will be held on the National Life Group lawn on July 13. Gates open at 2:30 pm, with music starting at 4 pm. The festival ends at 9:30 pm. No pets are allowed, with the exception of certified service animals. National Life Group is planning for as many as 10,000 people, weather permitting. National Life Group is located at 1 National Life Drive, Montpelier.

Tom Brown is contributing editor of The Bridge. ..... You can contact him at tom@montpelierbridge.com