December 1, 2022
By Erin McKenney
When Daniel O’Donnell saw how hard his wife, employee Cathy O’Donnell, NP, and her St. Joseph Hospital colleagues were working during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was determined to do something meaningful to recognize them. Understanding the healing power of nature, Dan envisioned a commemorative courtyard as the perfect way to acknowledge employees’ dedication and service.
The O’Donnells’ leadership gift of $10,000 was matched by the hospital’s staff. Many generous community donors also contributed to the effort to honor the entire staff. Dan’s vision for the commemorative courtyard, a refresh of the current rehabilitation garden, is becoming a reality.
Julie Desmarais, a hospital volunteer, remembers when the original garden was first planted. She says, “Twenty-seven years ago after my mom passed away, I began volunteering at the hospital to help me work through my grief. Today, I’m still a volunteer.”
In honor of her mother, Lucille Blanchette, who was a prolific gardener, Julie, who turns 92 years old next summer, donated three truckloads of flowers to spruce up the original garden. She can’t wait to celebrate the unveiling of the new courtyard.
“We’re excited to unveil the courtyard to the hospital staff and community in the spring,” shares Dan and Cathy. “This area will provide solace to those who need a quiet moment, serve as an intimate venue for small hospital and community outreach events, be a space to enjoy lunch with a colleague or even host an open-air yoga session. Notably, it will also be a memorial to the souls who passed during the pandemic.”