For the bulk of the past year, Jack Kannan has been working to launch a first-time foundation at Wayne Memorial Hospital in the only way he knew how -- through relationship-building.

It's a skill he brought to the role he held for years as executive director of the Wayne Community College Foundation.

He was first hired at WCC as a counselor in the early 1970s, after which he spent a few years in the private sector.

He became a trustee at the college, right around the time the institution began exploring forming a foundation to generate funds for student scholarships.

That in turn led to him heading up the WCC Foundation.

His approach to the position was not focused on pounding the pavement with hands extended, asking for money, but more along the lines of what he called "friend-raising."

"It's very important to me and the success I feel like I have had at the college, to let the donors know how the money was spent," he said. "If the donor feels like money was spent for the right cause, that money will come."

Kannan retired from the college in 2016.

With the merger of WMH and UNC Health Care came discussions about adding a foundation.

In April 2017, Kannan was named executive director of the newly formed WMH Foundation, a part-time position as the fledgling startup was developed.

"I was tasked with starting up the Foundation, getting a mission statement, what the needs were for the hospital from a foundation's standpoint," he explained.

"I have gotten that going and I have launched it. Now I'm getting the board members and we're actually starting to raise money and scholarships."

The scholarships will be used to attract and retain skilled nurses, with contributions also used to fund medical technology and equipment for the new surgical tower, support facility upgrades and promote wellness programs and deliver better care to the community, Kannan said.

His office is also developing the "Grateful Patient Program," an opportunity for satisfied customers to express appreciation to staff for the level of care received while in the emergency department or elsewhere in the hospital.

"I think people, when you get good care and you're sick or scared, you come out grateful," he said. "That's what I'm selling. I'm not selling a hospital."

One of his secret weapons in the role is his assistant, Kim Anderson, an employee at Wayne Memorial going on 27 years.

Anderson is a familiar face around the campus, having worked in the administrative suite for the bulk of her time there.

In November, she was named director, board affairs and foundation services. She splits her time between working with the board of directors for the hospital and assisting with the Foundation.

"It's very different but I like the relationships that I have with the people, all the people that are donating," she said. "It's exciting for me to see people that are happy about things -- they're pleased, they're excited."

Kannan is enthused about what his associate brings to the role, having a rich history with the hospital as well as numerous connections in the community.

"I think she's got so many resources to offer the Foundation," he said. "That's why she's so important to us.

"Her role will be expanded as we expand because she's been on the ground floor."

Anderson said she appreciates the potential for the non-profit and sees it as a positive thing.

"I love the part of helping others," she said. "I'm a people person and I love working with people. We're all working for a cause and celebrating."

The Foundation is a separate, not-for-profit charitable organization but supports Wayne UNC Health Care, Kannan said. It can be contacted online at waynememorialhospital@waynehealth.org.