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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Local Women Rally Together to Help Seattle Children’s Hospital Families

Her daughter Clare spent all four days of her life at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Surrounded by tender, loving, and superb care from the staff, who not only gave her baby the best medical care and comfort, but also provided those small moments of help and support beyond the medicine for baby and her family that made all the difference in the world. Her son Beckett came into the world and had a serious medical condition—he is currently and regularly being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital with the same world class care and love Children’s is known for. Judy Gaffney (Clare’s mom) and Brooke Shumaker (Beckett’s mom), along with Hillary Lambert and Kim Montgomery wanted to give back to this hospital. So here’s the math: put four enthusiastic, high energy, and community loving women together with a plan and you get the Clare Beckett Guild For Children’s Hospital (named for the two precious aforementioned babies). Can it get any better than that?

Actually, yes.

When the Clare Beckett team put the call to action out to friends, family, and other community members, word spread rapidly and the response was phenomenal. Now the team, new to the process of starting up a charitable organization and having lots of eager response, faced the task of getting everything up and running. They are doing a wonderful job and serve to inspire other local women to get involved with their cause or to start groups of their own for their own causes. I had the privilege of chatting with one of the founders, Judy Gaffney, to explore the journey, mission, and vision of the guild.

What are the top goals for the guild's mission and vision?

Our guild supports uncompensated care at Children’s, helping families who either have no insurance coverage, or whose insurance coverage has been exceeded. This year, Children’s will provide over $100M in uncompensated care and giving is down 25%. When I sent out a note to a small circle of friends to ask what they thought about me starting a guild, the response was tremendous. It seemed that everyone else felt the way I did… it was time to give back, but we didn’t know how. Three of these women, Hillary Lambert, Kim Montgomery and Brooke Shumaker (Beckett’s mom), joined me as founding members of the guild, with the idea that we could have a low-stress, flexible commitment model that would allow members to participate as they were able to and as much or as little time as they could, be involved. We really feel that if we each do a little, it makes a big difference.

What is (are) the current project(s) of the guild?

Just getting set up and going is the biggest goal right now. We are hoping that attendees to the November 12th info meeting will help us with our first drive, collecting Crayola brand crayons. We also hope that anyone looking to make a tax deductible charitable donation before the end of the year will do it through the Clare Beckett Guild!

What has the response been for obtaining members/volunteers?

We have been overwhelmed by the response. I thought I’d be lucky if 20 people were interested. We’ve invited 150 people to the information meeting and are getting lots of positive response. I think we’ve hit an untapped demographic in our area. Many of the responders are SAHM or working moms, who don’t have a lot of time, but want to do something. And as I mentioned earlier, we’ve been approached by people in Southwest Washington and in the San Juan Islands, who don’t have a lot of opportunity to attend meetings, but want to feel a part of something bigger. Nearly all of the people who have responded have either had children or know of children who have been treated at Children’s.

How can someone join this guild?

If anyone is interested in joining our guild, please send an email to We are having an informational meeting on November 12th in Issaquah. People from all over Western Washington have requested information… either a guild isn’t available in their area, or they had particular interest in ours because they know one of the founding members. As we get set up, we aren’t anticipating huge fund raisers, but rather, finding small ways in which to contribute.

What advice do you have for other women who would like to set something like this up for their own cause?

Seattle Children’s is making it really easy for us to get this going. The Guild Association at Children’s is the largest in the country. They are giving us a lot of support as we embark on this mission. I think the administrative start up is what prevents most people from getting something like this started. Setting up a charitable organization on your own is tough (I was part of one in response to Hurricane Katrina). I’m not sure I would’ve done this without the incredible support Children’s provides. If someone is interested in supporting a local hospital, they should contact the volunteer or guild office at that hospital.

I’ll keep readers posted on the guild as it progresses and how readers can help. Special thanks to Judy Gaffney for taking time out of her schedule to answer my questions and get us tuned into a wonderful cause.


Lorraine Hart said...

Three cheers for those who work a cause...especially for kids. Thanks for letting us know Kim. xo

Kim Thompson said...

You bet! I love sharing these good news stories with the neighborhood.