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Women behind Wolfson Children’s Hospital are a community treasure

October 15th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

From the Florida Times-Union:

Caring. Efficient. Creative. Tenacious. Financially savvy. Respected.

Since the 1970s, the Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital has consistently lived up to those words.

With a tireless sense of compassion for children and a fierce sense of determination to help them, this board of astute and selfless area women has raised more than $26 million (and counting) over the years.

These funds play a critical role in helping Wolfson Children’s Hospital add the latest technology, programs and resources to treat children facing major medical challenges.

What’s even more admirable is that the Women’s Board has done its fine work while also enriching and elevating the quality of life in our community.

2015 Art & Antiques Show Logo

MAJOR EVENTS A TRADITION

Its annual Florida Forum speakers series doesn’t merely serve as a major fundraising vehicle for the nonprofit; it has also allowed tens of thousands of Northeast Floridians to hear from world leaders, distinguished authors, pioneering thinkers, top entertainers, famed athletes and other major figures.

And the Women’s Board yearly Art & Antiques Show, held in December, has become an area fixture of the holiday season — a four-day fundraiser that begins with a gala dinner, continues with striking displays and fascinating speakers and caps off with the traditional, inspiring childrens’ fashion show, featuring Wolfson patients from age 4 to 18.

“Our mission has always been to raise money for (the Children’s Hospital), but it’s also to raise awareness throughout our community about the great things being done there every day,” Women’s Board President Grace Sarber — whose grandmother, Ellen Cavert, founded the nonprofit more than 40 years ago — recently told the Times-Union editorial board.

“Wolfson doesn’t turn any child away, so they look to us as a major donor,” Sarber added. “We can help fund things that they may not be able to (alone).”

MAJOR PROJECTS CONTINUING

And the Women’s Board has been a dynamo in assisting Wolfson’s wide-ranging work to heal and help children.

It is currently raising money to support the construction of a state-of-the-art pediatric surgery center with its funds being devoted not only to building the facility but hiring top surgeons to work in it.

It has worked to increase Wolfson’s supply of innovative neonatal beds.

It has helped boost the hospital’s bone marrow transplant and intensive care units as well as a 16-bed behavioral center that’s provided such much-needed services that it has arguably prevented an area crisis in pediatric mental health care.

A REGIONAL ASSET

It has been the guiding hand in backing Wolfson’s Kids Kare Transport Program, a mobile intensive care unit that travels within a 250-mile radius of Jacksonville to treat critically ill infants and children.

The Women’s Board does all this and more while running a tight organizational ship that emphasizes that a big part of successfully raising funds lies in proving that you’re equally skilled at spending that money in wise fashion.

Sarber noted that the Women’s Board prides itself on being so resourceful that it even auctions off flower displays, table decorations and other mementos from events and adds any funds raised from the sell-offs to its donation kitty for the Children’s Hospital.

“We’re extremely frugal,” Sarber said with a chuckle. “(But) you can’t say or do enough to save the lives of children. And to change their lives for the better.”

And it’s a noble mission that the Women’s Board has taken on with passion — year after year, child after child.

The leadership has been so strong and dynamic that maybe it’s time to call on these women to tackle other civic projects.

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