With smiling faces all around and twinkling lights illuminating the trees, the new rooftop garden at St. John’s Mercy Children’s Hospital doesn’t ‘feel’ like a hospital. And that’s the idea, explains Patty Arnold, president of St. John’s Mercy Foundation.
“It’s a comforting, healing space where patients and their families can enjoy a welcome respite from the stress of hospital procedures,” she says. “And because it’s a rooftop garden, they can enjoy it without being too far from their room.” In fact, says Arnold, kids can see the 3,000 square-foot garden, outfitted with animal sculptures, birdhouses and a porch swing, from their beds. “We opened in November 2009 with Christmas lights in the trees. When we discovered how much the children enjoyed seeing the lights outside their windows, we decided to leave the trees lit up throughout the year,” she says.
The only full-service facility in St. Louis County designated as a children’s hospital by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, St. John’s cares for more than 85,000 young patients each year. A new tower that consolidates medical, surgical and intensive care pediatric services will be completed in July 2010. Like the Children’s Garden, the tower was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Foundation, particularly the annual Benefit for the Kids, which raised more than $680,000 last year.
The seventh annual Benefit for the Kids features a golf tournament July 26 at Whitmoor Country Club and a dinner auction July 30 at Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet. “By combining a golf tournament and a dinner auction,” explains Arnold, “we are able to accommodate different interests, giving people an opportunity to participate in a way that is fulfilling to them.” While the benefit events are on two separate days, Arnold says the entire week at the hospital is special. “We designate it ‘benefit for kids week’ and we do different things to let our co-workers, patients and their families participate in the fun,” she says.
The July event, sponsored by Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier, will benefit a range of hospital programs, including the Child Development Center, a diagnostic and treatment center for children affected by neurodevelopment disorders, as well as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Oncology Unit.
Susie Snowden and Keith Tkachuk serve as co-chairs this year. “One of the things very important to the Foundation is the opportunity to involve people throughout the community,” says Arnold. “Susie’s husband, Kent, is a physician at St. John’s Mercy and Keith, of course, just retired from the St. Louis Blues. Organizing our biggest fundraiser is a tremendous responsibility and we appreciate their enthusiasm and effort.”
While Snowden and Tkachuk are first-time chairs of the Benefit for Kids event, Arnold says many volunteers return annually. “Jan Bruns-Mantovani has served as chair of our dinner auction for many years, and it’s always a great success. Rob Rubbelke, our golf chairperson, is also returning this year. We are grateful to Jan and Rob for their continuing support and leadership on behalf of the Foundation.”
On the Cover: The St. John’s Mercy Hospital Foundation’s seventh annual ‘Benefit for the Kids’ features a golf tournament July 26 at Whitmoor Country Club and a dinner auction July 30 at Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet. For tickets or more information call 251-1800 or visit http://www.stjohnsmercyfoundation.org">www.stjohnsmercyfoundation.org Cover design by Noah Palone | Photo by Josephine Havlak