Membership News

Shared Hospital Experiences Lead to Enduring Guild Friendships

Project Grace Guild

Longtime friends formed the Project Grace Guild 12 years ago. Founding member Andrea Stiles (front row, far left), president Victoria Gerlitz (back row, far right), and their fellow guild members are dedicated to making a difference for Seattle Children’s families.

Andrea Stiles’ daughter spiked a fever of 101 degrees when she was just 8 days old. Heeding their pediatrician’s recommendation, Andrea and her husband, Jason, rushed their baby to Seattle Children’s Emergency Room. The couple spent three days in the hospital while the care team kept baby Jordan under observation. 

“We’re so thankful that her fever didn’t amount to anything dangerous or long lasting, but those three days in the hospital gave us a firsthand look at what happens there,” says Stiles. “We’re so impressed by the quality of care Jordan received and so thankful to have expert care like this just 30 minutes from home.”

Andrea Stiles’ daughter spiked a fever of 101 degrees when she was just 8 days old. Heeding their pediatrician’s recommendation, Andrea and her husband, Jason, rushed their baby to Seattle Children’s Emergency Room. The couple spent three days in the hospital while the care team kept baby Jordan under observation.

Later that year, a neighbor invited Stiles to a Seattle Children’s guild luncheon fundraiser, where a patient’s mom shared her inspiring story. As the women at her table started talking, they discovered that every one of them had a personal connection to Seattle Children’s: a child who had been treated at the hospital. From broken bones to heart surgery, they bonded that day over stories of struggles and healing.

Before dessert arrived, one of the women suggested that they start a guild of their own, and the response around the table was a resounding “Yes!” 

“We decided to support uncompensated care and wanted our guild’s name to reflect our desire to give back for all that our families had received from the hospital,” Stiles says. “We discussed defining traits of thoughtfulness, service and bringing peace of mind to families in times of tremendous stress. ‘Grace’ was the word that encompassed those attributes best.” 

A few months later, the newly minted Project Grace Guild held its first fundraiser: a silent auction with appetizers held in a guild member’s backyard.  Thirty moms, sisters and friends of the founders attended.

“We started this guild as friends who all had shared experiences with Children’s, and over the past 12 years our friendships and connections have grown so much deeper. Now that our friends are facing this monumental challenge, the guild has rallied to support them in the best way we know how. We’re so fortunate to have world-class research and care at Seattle Children’s.” – Andrea Stiles, Project Grace Guild

Twelve years later, Project Grace Guild became a “Top 10” fundraising guild. They raised $257,000 at their evening auction in May, but this time they directed it to another area of hospital need for a very personal reason.

The 15-year-old son of guild president Victoria Gerlitz was diagnosed with germ cell cancer last December. Ryan received a second round of chemotherapy over the summer.

“We changed our focus to Strong Against Cancer to honor Ryan’s continuing fight,” Stiles says. “We started this guild as friends who all had shared experiences with Children’s, and over the past 12 years our friendships and connections have grown so much deeper. Now that our friends are facing this monumental challenge, the guild has rallied to support them in the best way we know how. We’re so fortunate to have world-class research and care at Seattle.”