Mateo Messina and the LUMA Guild: Harnessing the Power of Music
From the first day Mateo Messina pulled up a bench to the hospital’s piano and began to play music with patients, magic happened. The Grammy-winning composer and Guild Association board trustee began volunteering in Seattle Children’s playroom in the late 1990s, just as his music career was taking off.
“A little kid lingered by the piano and I asked him if he wanted to sit down. I put his fingers on the key of C an octave apart and I played along. We started playing a duet and his face lit up,” Messina says. “It was like we had a great hello moment and I said, ‘Let’s write a song.’ That has been the exact hello I’ve had with 99% of the kids I work with at the hospital. When they say they don’t know how to write a song, I tell them we can write about whatever they’re feeling. People often find it easier to share things in their heart when it’s in the form of a song. It’s cathartic.”
Dear fellow guild members,
It is my great privilege to chair Seattle Children’s Guild Association Board of Trustees. In working with you, I have never met a more caring, committed group of people. Even through the many challenges of the past year, you found ways to work together in service to the children of our community. At the heart of our work is Seattle Children’s founding promise to care for every child in need – regardless of their race, religion or ability to pay.
Seattle Children’s is committed to being an actively anti-racist organization by challenging and changing systems to create new ones based on equality.
The Guild Association is committed to being an active supporter of these efforts. Our trustees have made it a priority to educate ourselves, beginning by exploring the anti-racism resources (PDF) provided by Seattle Children’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity. We have highlighted a few in the story below. The Guild Association is open to all, and we are working to ensure that there are no barriers to anyone who wishes to be involved in a guild. We welcome your feedback as we work to learn and foster better understanding. Please email email@example.com with ideas or questions.
Every day, you inspire me to be the best leader I can be. Thank you for being part of this journey for positive change.
Chair, Seattle Children’s Guild Association Board of Trustees
Act Now: Explore These Anti-Racism Resources
As mentioned in Thompson’s letter above, Seattle Children’s Center for Diversity and Health Equity has compiled a list of anti-racism resources. We’ve called out a few here and encourage you to join us by educating yourself and/or sharing these resources with your friend networks to actively work against racism. See the complete list (PDF).
Book: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (2019)
In How to Be an Antiracist, Black American author and historian Ibram X. Kendi uses personal stories to outline elements of racism, proposes ideas for anti-racist actions individuals can make and offers suggestions for systemic change.
Podcasts: TED Talk Playlist to Help You Understand Racism in America
These dynamic presentations offer important insights to illustrate the daily challenges of being Black in America and explore how we can work together for a better future.
Organization: Showing Up for Racial Justice
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a national network of groups and individuals working to undermine white supremacy and to work for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.
The recent departure of Dr. Ben Danielson from Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and resulting media coverage shined a light on many areas where Seattle Children’s must engage and examine our system and processes. Seattle Children’s is committed to being an anti-racist organization. We recognize there is important work to be done to realize this vision, but we are dedicated to taking the necessary actions to get there. Learn more.
Celebrating Our Outgoing and Incoming Trustees
It’s hard to say goodbye to three amazing trustees of Seattle Children’s Guild Association Board. Each of these leaders brought unique and invaluable talents to the board over nine or more years of service. Thank you for your tremendous leadership! We also extend a warm welcome to three new board members! Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the Guild Association.
Debbie Cady, Frances W. Nordstrom Guild and Little Lemon Drops Junior Guild
“Serving on the Guild Association Board was a great honor for me. The people, the events and the stories were all transformative. One of the most meaningful experiences for me was being part of the Funding Hope award process. Over my 10 years on the board, the Guild Association funded many programs and facilities that have made significant differences in children’s lives.”
Darcy Hollie, We Believe Guild
“Some of the most meaningful moments were during our monthly board meetings when hospital staff shared the work they do for children and their families. Often there was not a dry eye in the room, and you could feel the collective compassion and genuine love for the hospital and those who work tirelessly for our patients. I always felt humbled and honored to support these efforts and be part of a board where unbridled passion, commitment and care are driving forces. It’s been such an honor to serve with these amazing people.”
Erin Cordry, Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Guild and OCD Guild
“I am proud to be part of an amazing group of individuals who are making a massive impact on the lives of patient families. It has been so heartwarming to help create innovative initiatives in brain tumors, cancer and mental health. Being a patient mom myself, I know firsthand how important this work is to the kids in our community. My tenure on the board has given me the beautiful gift of having forged lifelong relationships with my fellow trustees.”
Monica Flory, Eastside Friends for Children’s Guild
“I’m looking forward to being an advocate for Seattle Children’s in a capacity that best suits my talents, whether that is fundraising, community outreach or any other project. I’m excited to say yes in a lot of new ways as a board trustee!”
JoAnne Jones, Mercer Island Guild
“I’m looking forward to continuing to expand my knowledge of Seattle Children’s as a new trustee and getting to know current Guild Association board members. I’m also excited to learn more about how the Guild Association’s activities impact the hospital’s operation and successes.”
Sherrelle Walker, Friends of Odessa Brown Children’s Guild and Friends of Costco Guild
“I am very happy to be part of the Guild Association because it focuses on the health and wellness of children regardless of their ability to pay. Without this type of support, too many children, especially children of color, are at a disadvantage as they move through life. Seattle Children’s guilds make a dramatic difference in their lives.”
Dedicated Guild Performer Takes Talents to College
From the time she plunked out her first song on a toy xylophone at 2, patient ambassador Cass Huff has built her life around music. And though she has a rare genetic condition called Conradi–Hunermann syndrome and has endured 43 surgeries in her 18 years, she has never let medical challenges obstruct her dream of performing on Broadway.
That aim just got a curtain call closer as Cass is now a freshman studying music theatre at AMDA (online classes started in November). She can’t wait for her sophomore year when she gets to study at her school’s second campus in New York City. Since we last checked in, Cass starred in an episode of a Netflix series called Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy; had a chapter published in the bestselling book Becoming an Exceptional Leader; performed at more than 70 Seattle Children’s events; and graduated high school with honors.
“I want to say thank you to everybody at the hospital, not only for keeping me alive for the last 18 years but also for teaching me so much. Without Seattle Children’s, I would not be a musician today. Performing at guild events has given me incredible opportunities for growth. It feels like I’ve really made a big family by building relationships with the Guild Association Board and guild members – and I love every one of them.”
— Cass Huff, Seattle Children’s patient ambassador
Please Remember to Renew Your Membership!
Your renewal reaffirms your commitment to Seattle Children’s patients and their families. Oct. 1 marked the start of the 2021 fundraising year. Help us go green by renewing online, or renew by mail. Thank you for your continued dedication to Seattle Children’s! If you have questions, call the Guild Association office at 206-987-2153 or email us.
New & Next Campaign Highlights
Uncompensated Care Saves Lives
When Seattle Children’s opened its doors in 1907, the founders had a clear mission for the hospital – to care for every child, regardless of their ability to pay. It Starts With Yes builds on this enduring goal to cover medical bills for families in need so they can focus on helping their children heal. Last year, with guild support, Seattle Children’s provided $184 million in financial assistance for families!
It means the world to me that I work in a place where it does not matter whether a patient has insurance coverage or not. At Odessa Brown, I get to address each patient’s needs regardless of those factors so I can really focus on the health of the child and their family and not worry about whether they can afford to see me. I remember one family that is a great example of the impact of uncompensated care. Their child was born with a heart defect and they were immensely relieved when they learned that the costs not covered by their insurance would be covered by the hospital. When this child had to have a complex heart surgery and spend eight months in the hospital, the parents did not have to worry about bankrupting their whole life to pay the $2 million bill for their child to live.
This family didn’t have to choose between the life of their child and their gainful employment or their marriage. I don’t know how else to say it – uncompensated care really saves people’s lives.
It is important for kids to have these surgeries, but if it means that we send them out to be homeless, or if it means their parents end up divorced due to the extreme stress and trauma from the hospitalization and financial burden, then we didn’t really do any good for that child by fixing their heart. We don’t want to cause trauma while we are trying to fix disease. And thanks to our generous donors, we don’t have to.
“Seattle Children’s touches every facet of our lives. Charlotte requires a gastrostomy tube to get the nutrition she needs and the medical supplies we use to feed her are covered by uncompensated care, so we feel the impact of hospital donors literally every single day. Especially in times like these, when things are so uncertain, it’s such a good feeling to know that we are being cared for by the hospital and all the donors.”
— Samantha Ahn, Charlotte’s mom
Uncompensated Care Guild Spotlight: I Can and I Will Guild
By Alisa Gutierrez-Vitello
At my daughter Olivia’s 6-year wellness visit, her pediatrician was concerned that she was falling off the growth chart and recommended she see a neurologist at Seattle Children’s.
Over the next six months, we were referred to many different specialists who tried to pinpoint the cause of Olivia’s problems. During this time, she began to complain of leg pain, tired easily and showed a lack of coordination. After many tests, doctors diagnosed Olivia with a rare genetic disorder called Morquio syndrome, which affects the bones and spine, organs and physical abilities. Children with this condition are missing or don’t produce enough of the enzymes that break down sugar chains naturally produced in the body. Olivia’s condition requires a six-hour-long, weekly enzyme infusion. The cost of her treatment would be nearly $30,000 a week – for the rest of her life. Thanks to incredible medical insurance, my husband and I can ensure Olivia gets the medical care she needs with minimal out-of-pocket costs.
With Olivia’s diagnosis, I fell into depression and grief, and I wanted to channel this sadness into something good. That’s when I decided to form a guild and host a fun run. Our guild chose to support uncompensated care because one day I overheard a mom at the hospital saying she had to wait to check to see if her insurance would cover it before going ahead with an X-ray for her child. I wanted to run up and say I would pay for it! When you feel stuck in limbo and unsure of what is causing your child’s pain, you should be able to explore any and all options to get a diagnosis. Cost should not prevent anyone from seeking medical care for themselves. When I learned about the Uncompensated Care Fund, I said, “That’s it!” The guild’s first-ever event was a resounding success!