"Friends of Doernbecher" Celebrates 10 Years of Support for Area's Leading Children's Hospital

04/25/00    Portland, Ore.

The Volunteer Group Continues its Efforts With a $1.2 Million Fund-Raising Campaign

Over the past decade, the Friends of Doernbecher has generated more than $3.5 million to help fund Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health Sciences University. Now celebrating its 10th year of service to Doernbecher, the organization is launching a drive to raise $1.2 million for an endowed fund for medical care. The fund will help pay for expensive therapies, surgeries and medications that often are not covered, even when families have insurance.

Friends of Doernbecher is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the long-term success of Doernbecher Children's Hospital. With 500 members and 13 chapters in Portland, Astoria, Springfield, Roseburg and Redmond, Ore., along with Vancouver and Longview, Wash., the Friends of Doernbecher raise money through a variety of annual activities, including golf tournaments and auctions.

"The Friends' members are a tremendous asset to Doernbecher Children's Hospital, not only through the funds they raise, but also through their enthusiasm and dedication," says Jonathan Ulsh, executive director of Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation. "Their bedrock support inspires our staff and helps families cope with a difficult time in their children's lives."

The members of Friends of Doernbecher are people like Irva Eccleston of Vancouver. Irva's son, Aaron, died in 1993 at the age of 18, after a 10-year battle with cancer. Today, Irva is the president of Vancouver's Claudia Swanson Chapter of Friends of Doernbecher. "Every time I have to get up in front of people and speak, I see my son standing there, encouraging me," she says.

When speaking of Friends, it's hard to avoid the Kokich name. Four generations of the Kokich family have been active members of the Friends of Doernbecher since one of the youngest members of their family, Jordan, became a Doernbecher patient. Born with a rare syndrome, she overcame two heart surgeries, kidney cancer and a kidney transplant by the time she was eight. To show support for the children's hospital, Jordan's father, Chris, became active with the Friends of Doernbecher, eventually starting his own chapter. Chris' mother, Marvel, also started her own chapter and is joined by her mother who helps out by making cookies and sandwiches for one of the Friends' biggest programs, "The Street of Screams" haunted house, during Halloween. The two chapters have since merged and now are collectively called Families for Doernbecher.

Friends of Doernbecher was established in the fall of 1989, with the Claudia Swanson Chapter launched as its first local group in May 1990.

"We used to get together to play bunko," says Dottie Groves, one of the founding presidents of the Claudia Swanson Chapter. "One of the women in our group had a son treated at Doernbecher and was impressed with the medical care he received. She had heard of a new group forming to raise money for Doernbecher and we decided to form our own chapter." They named the chapter as a memorial to a friend, Claudia Swanson, who loved children.

Friends of Doernbecher is honoring its volunteers at its annual members-only meeting on April 27. The event will take place in the new Joseph Vey Conference Center at Doernbecher.

The Claudia Swanson Chapter of Vancouver, Wash., raised close to $26,000 at its seventh annual brunch and fashion show. In addition to fund-raising, the April 15 show was held to honor the chapter's 40 members. Current and former Doernbecher patients modeled the clothing, all of which was from Spanky's, a Vancouver consignment shop.

The Friends of Doernbecher's board sponsors two annual fund-raisers, The Heart of Doernbecher Auction and the Holiday Cards for Kids Program. This year the two projects raised $340,000.

Doernbecher is a recognized leader in pediatric clinical care, education and research. Last year alone, 35,000 children made 133,000 visits to Doernbecher hospital and clinics. For nearly 75 years Doernbecher has trained the pediatric doctors, nurses and therapists who serve the children of the Northwest. A part of OHSU, Doernbecher is the oldest pediatric facility in the region, and the only one affiliated with an academic health care center.