Human nature is such that there comes a point in life where each of us begins to consider our legacy — what we have done that makes a difference or what we need to do to leave things better than they were.
For Carbondale’s Darrell Bryant, the realization was that it was time to support the things that are important to him.
“I’m at the age where I am beginning to think about what I’ve accomplished and about my legacy,” Bryant, 57, said. “It’s something I’ve been doing. What can I do? What can I give back? Where can I make an impact? I don’t think you think about it when you are younger, but at some point you begin to think about what people will say when you’re gone.”
Bryant’s been looking out for others most of his life. Born in Carrier Mills, he moved to Carbondale in 1980 where he studied finance at Southern Illinois University and worked in banking. After four years in retail, he decided to return to school and study respiratory therapy.
“That’s how I got into medicine,” he says.
First, he worked as a respiratory therapist at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. About 17 years ago, he was named a department manager for Southern Illinois Healthcare, using both his medical experience and his business degree. When the SIH Medical Group was formed in 2007, he was at the helm. Today, he is Chief Operating Officer, supervising medical care from more than 270 providers.
“I oversee all of the providers and directors, handling day-to-day operations and all that entails — form patient experiences to financial areas to contracts with the providers,” he said.
Bryant says his varied experiences benefit him daily. “I’ve had a lot of experience from the hospital size, the bedside, too. For me, it has been a privilege to serve patients and now to serve those who take care of patients.”
During his 30-plus years as a resident of Carbondale, Bryant says he has often enjoyed and appreciated the arts offered in the community and that is one of the places where he has chosen to give back. As a member of the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse, he says he wants to continue to see the summer theatrical offerings.
“What’s different about McLeod is that it is professional theater,” he said. “Actors love coming to Carbondale to be part of McLeod Summer Playhouse and we are known nationwide. Professional theater gives us all a taste of a larger city. You see some things like you’d see at the Fox Theater right here in Carbondale.”
He says the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse works to ensure performances continue and he serves on the board for the organization, overseeing “Singing With the Stars,” an annual event that features local business people and dignitaries singing in a friendly competition.
“It’s our only fundraiser and we’ve doubled attendance for that event,” he said.
Bryant also recently joined the board of Carbondale Community Arts.
“I’m looking to further my involvement there. I’m getting to know the organization and ways that I can be of service there. I believe in CCA’s mission of celebrating creativity and encouraging cultural opportunities for youth and adults throughout the region.”
Based upon his work with McLeod, Bryant anticipates he’ll be helping raise funds.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a fundraiser for not-for-profits, but I guess I am a quiet fundraiser by getting people involved who later turn into contributors. I’m going to be involved. The arts in Carbondale are something that I’m passionate about. I think it distinguishes us from other communities.”
He said he wants to help because arts-based organizations need it.
“Groups like this are struggling and it seems that funds are drying up for everyone. We can’t count on state or government assistance for the future, so we have to help,” he said. “I am at the time of my life when it is time for me to start giving something back and doing something for the organizations that I have enjoyed for so long. It is something I care about, so it’s easy to do.”
Giving back and leading others to giving is something Bryant says he will continue for years to come as he continues to consider a legacy.
“It is kind of cliché, but I want people to think that I did good for the groups I am part of and brought others into the fold. That’s what I want.”