For Graham Goldwasser, it’s all about the people at St. Louis Children’s Hospital—the staff, the parents and, of course, the kids. “Unfortunately, kids sometimes have to go to places like this,” says the Young Friends board chair. “But we are so fortunate to have an institution like Children’s Hospital in town—if kids have to go there, they’re in good hands.”
Goldwasser, who works as a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, got involved with the Young Friends group two and a half years ago through a fundraiser called ‘Kickball for a Cause.’ “I was just looking for something to lend my time to,” he says, when some friends asked him if he wanted to help out.
Held in Clayton’s Shaw Park, ‘Kickball for a Cause’ raises money every year for a different program of Children’s Hospital. Typically, Goldwasser says, the event brings in $35,000 to $40,000. This year’s event, on Aug. 14, raises funds for Camp Hope, a summer camp for children affected by HIV/AIDS and their families.
After helping to plan the kickball tournament for two years, Goldwasser was elected board chair. His mission is to promote and grow the Young Friends organization, which has 200 members and was launched just six years ago. “What we have found is that the desire and the support are there from the young professionals in and around St. Louis,” he says. “We’re lucky to have an amazing group of board members.”
Alhough the fundraisers are fun—and important to the hospital’s bottom line—Goldwasser says it’s also critical for board members to establish a connection with the hospital through regular service opportunities. One of those takes place in the hospital’s Ronald McDonald Family Room. “It’s a home away from home for long-term patients and their families, so they can come and take showers, grab a bite to eat, do their laundry,” Goldwasser explains. “We do quarterly dinners there where we’ll order in a bunch of pizzas and just be there to serve them, to be a shoulder for the families to lean on.”
Simply being at the hospital and seeing what goes on there inspires him, says Goldwasser. “Walking through places like the NICU, you see the families and you see these little kids at such a young age, so sick—it’s very powerful.” But it’s not just the kids and families, he adds. “One of the biggest reasons why Children’s Hospital is so special is the people that work there,” he says, “everybody from the greeters to the doctors to the people in the foundation office who do a fantastic job promoting the hospital.”
Though Goldwasser doesn’t yet have children of his own, knowing there’s a hospital like Children’s in the area gives him peace of mind, he says. “The hospital flies in people from all over the country and sometimes from all over the world. The one constant thing they always talk about is how well they’re treated,” he says. “The hospital deserves every bit of praise. We feel honored just to be a part of it and do our small fundraising piece.”