The Junior League of Nashville (JLN) committed $1.5 million to its longtime partner, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, during a special event on Feb. 12.
The gift, part of the Junior League’s eighth supplemental agreement with Children’s Hospital, will go to support the Junior League Home Arts and Entertainment Program, an effort of the Child Life Program, which works with patients and families to promote a positive medical experience. The gift also will help the Growing to New Heights Campaign, which supports the hospital’s upcoming four-floor expansion.
“The Junior League of Nashville is grateful for the opportunity to reinvest in our decades-long partnership with Vanderbilt,” said Jennifer Hill, the 2015-16 president of the Junior League. “The opportunity to contribute to the Growing to New Heights Campaign continues JLN’s legacy of providing access to state-of-the-art medical treatment, while our gift to Child Life ensures that patients and families will have the wrap-around care that we know supports families and an improved patient experience.”
For more than 90 years, the JLN has been a champion for children’s health, and has partnered with Vanderbilt during that time to ensure quality care for children. The Junior League has given more than $14.4 million over the years, including the current gift.
“Through their countless, heartfelt acts of service and philanthropy, the Junior League of Nashville continues to have an enormous impact on the lives of all children and families served by Children’s Hospital. I want to express my sincere appreciation for our longstanding partnership, and for this generous gift supporting our Child Life Program and the hospital’s expansion. The benefits will be felt every day,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The Junior League’s latest gift is the largest ever to the Child Life Program at Children’s Hospital.
Child Life specialists—who are specially trained in child development and the unique needs of children, teens and families—work with patients and families to reduce the stress and anxiety that may be associated with the health care experience. They also create a friendly environment to help children and teens feel more comfortable.
“I am so grateful to the leadership and membership of the Junior League of Nashville for their continued generosity and ongoing faith in our mission to provide excellence in health care services to children,” said Meg Rush, M.D., MMHC, chief of staff and executive medical director for Children’s Hospital. “We would not be where we are today as a children’s hospital without the shared vision and partnership we have grown over many decades. It is truly a privilege to work with the Junior League to build special programs to serve our patients and families.”
The gift also supports the current Children’s Hospital expansion through the Growing to New Heights Campaign. In 2013 Vanderbilt announced the expansion to add four floors atop the existing hospital structure to allow for inpatient capacity to grow beyond 300 beds. The expansion will add approximately 160,000 square feet of space.
The Junior League of Nashville’s leadership in child health dates back to 1923, when the Junior League Home for Crippled Children opened. The home provided free convalescent and rehabilitative medical care for children with polio and other diseases.
In 1971, the home moved to what was then called Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Through the years, the Junior League’s gifts have helped support the Junior League Sickle Cell Disease and Asthma Program, the Junior League Family Resource Center, the Junior League Child Life Specialist Program, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Development Follow-up Clinic, and many more programs. Previous gifts also include providing capital to help build the freestanding Children’s Hospital that opened in 2004 as well as funding for the Junior League Fetal Care Center.
Volunteer work is an important and tremendous part of every gift the Junior League makes to Children’s Hospital. For the 2015-2016 year, 27 Junior League volunteers put in at least 855 hours. Volunteers host special events for patients and families and spend time with patients in the hospital playrooms and at the bedside, whether it’s to play a board game or offer companionship. They also are busy behind the scenes ensuring the hospital has items for the comfort cart, which provides travel-size personal items and snacks for patients’ families.
– by Christina Echegaray