The Dr. Penrose Guild was honored Feb. 29 at a dedication ceremony for its contribution to the construction of a new wing of surgical and pediatric intensive care units at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma. The 38 groups comprising the Mary Bridge Brigade, including Penrose, raised a combined $2.5 million.
Longtime guild member Joyce Tovey said, “It is just top-of-the-line everything. Every room is private, every room has places for the parents to stay, the nurses can watch things from right outside the door without being in the room.”
“The money was raised over quite a period of time,” said Rosie Rosenbach, the new guild president. “Most of the guilds are like us. They’re working all the time.”
The Dr. Penrose Guild raises money locally in several ways: through monthly member donations, a new fundraising luncheon and fashion show, and an upcoming event called the Taste of Wine in the fall. Volunteers also donate homemade clothes and blankets, and participate in the annual Mary Bridge Festival of Trees, a winter event that raises funds by auctioning off elaborately decorated Christmas Trees.
The Dr. Penrose Guild was founded in 1956. “It’s kind of amazing that it’s been continuous since that time,” Tovey said. “It was the same concept; everybody just had lunch every month and raised money to go to the hospital. They also volunteered like we do today. You can go into Tree House, for instance, and serve meals for the people there. I knit hats for the babies.”
“We also donate soaps and other supplies for the parents at Tree House,” Rosenbach said.
Tree House is a newly remodeled apartment building next to Mary Bridge where families can stay at low or no cost while their children are in the hospital. The name comes from the role the Mary Bridge Festival of Trees played in funding it.
One local KP family got to know Tree House.
Lakebay resident Amy Shaver’s teenage daughter was driving home alone in the early hours of Aug. 30, 2014. It was raining for the first time in weeks, the roads were slick, and she was impaired. She had told her parents she was going to a friend’s party on the eve of her junior year in high school, then called for a ride home, then left before they arrived. She drove into a tree, severely injuring her skull and torso. She was transported to Mary Bridge and put on life support. She was alive but brain scans showed no other activity.
“It was crazy,” Shaver said. “You’re like, what happened here? And then you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if she’s going to make it, if she’s going to wake up, if she’s going to know who you are.”
Shaver stayed in her daughter’s room for two days before learning about Tree House, just across the street.
“They got me my own apartment,” Shaver said. “They had refrigerators and pantries stocked, facilities for laundry, entertainment. They’d come in and cook a dinner for the families once a week where’d you get to meet everybody. But you don’t really talk about why you’re there, because that’s time when you don’t want to be thinking about it.
“After a week, we had just been talking [to my daughter] and visiting and she was just out, of course, but as soon as I got back to Tree House that night, the nurse called me and said she woke up and yanked out her breathing tube,” Shaver said.
“I didn’t know if she was going to know who I was, and I walk in and she says, ‘Mom!’ That was really emotional,” Shaver said.
Her daughter didn’t remember anything or understand what was happening. “She just knew I was there,” she said.
Shaver stayed at Tree House for a month. “It was just amazing that they provided that service. I think they charged me, like, $20 a day, and I had a chore to do,” she said.
There are 20 units that can accommodate 42 guests. “They were full, all the time,” she said.
“I didn’t even know the Tree House was supported through them [the Dr. Penrose Guild] until I started reading the plaques on the wall, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, these are our people out on the peninsula,'” Shaver said.
After a month, Shaver’s daughter was transferred to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle for three weeks of physical therapy. “She had to learn to walk again. Talk. Spell. Everything,” she said.
“She’s doing good now. Working two jobs part-time,” said Shaver, but it will take years for her to get back to where she was. “She’s got two years of high school left but won’t start again for another four,” she said.
Her daughter still talks about her pre-accident dreams of becoming a doctor or a nurse. “She’s got to do a lot to get there,” Shaver said. “I don’t know if that will ever happen but, hey, they didn’t think she’d be able to do what she’s doing now.”