I am so proud to be part of an amazing Guild Association community dedicated to our shared mission of helping every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible.
Guild members’ creativity, enthusiasm, friendship and dedication to the mission make up the “secret sauce” that allows us to meet our Guild Association goals. I am continually in awe of your noteworthy accomplishments, many of which are highlighted in our Annual Report, and inspired by guilds continuing to put the needs of our community first during challenging times. In coming together with you during our virtual United in Hope event, I was reminded again that our dollars are not abstract resources, but rather are keys that unlock doors for families navigating some of the most difficult of diagnoses. All these stories reflect that we are stronger together.
Thank you so much for all you do. I wish you all a healthy, joyful summer.
Aileen Kelly, executive director, Seattle Children’s Guild Association
Seattle Children’s Guild Association’s Annual Meeting Reimagined for 2021
Even though things looked different this year, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the incredible commitment of our guild members! We transformed our annual meeting into a two-week celebration with a theme honoring Mental Health Awareness Month. In May, guild members received a series of special video messages from Guild Association and hospital leaders. These communications culminated in an anchor event held May 14: United in Hope: Transforming Mental Health Care for All Youth and Families. The panel was moderated by patient ambassador Javi Barria, and featured Dr. Jeff Ojemann, surgeon-in-chief, Seattle Children’s; Dr. Larry Wissow, division chief, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Seattle Children’s; Dr. Alysha Thompson, psychologist, Seattle Children’s; Dr. Eileen Twohy, psychologist, Seattle Children’s; and David Ingram, lead mental health therapist, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic. If you couldn’t attend, a video is available to view online here.
This virtual conversation with leading experts in pediatric mental health care highlighted how Seattle Children’s is addressing today’s youth mental health crisis. The group shared about the hospital’s leadership in a once- in-a-generation transformation of the behavioral health paradigm so that all children, teens and families can live the healthiest and most fulfilling lives possible.
“Seeing Seattle Children’s shining a light on mental health and making it a main focus has meant the world to me. When I was going through my hospitalization, I felt like no one really cared that there were kids struggling in this unit. To see Seattle Children’s making this work a high priority shows me people really do care. I’m excited to be a part of this change and part of this movement.”
— Javi Barria, Seattle Children’s Patient Ambassador and former patient who received care on the hospital’s Psychiatry and Pediatric Mental Health Unit
Congratulations to Guild Award Recipients!
Anna Clise Award for Individual Achievement: Sue Byers
Sue Byers is a definite contender for holding more leadership positions than any guild member on record. She served on the Guild Association board from 2008 to 2017 and is currently a member of the KC Howard Guild and the Friends of Alyssa Burnett Center Guild. Sue also serves on the Seattle Children’s Government Affairs Committee and is chair of the Seattle Children’s Retail Board.
She first joined a guild because the hospital’s mission spoke to her, and that work flourished with family involvement — her mom, sister, brother and sister-in-law are all guild members. Sue’s ties strengthened as children in her family received care at Seattle Children’s: Her niece was diagnosed as hearing-impaired, a nephew had a severe nut allergy and another nephew required surgery.
“Everyone has a story, mine just kept happening a few years apart. I loved being on the board and learning about the cutting-edge work that you can’t even believe is happening,” she says, citing immunotherapy as a particular interest because of the future hope that children with cancer will not have to endure the ravages of chemotherapy and radiation.
“Receiving this award is humbling and I hope that I can continue to stay involved for many more years,” Sue says.
Chairman’s Award for Guild Excellence: Jean Thompson Guild
Stalwart Skagit Supporters Lauded
Jean Thompson Guild president and treasurer, Colleen Fisher and Sue Christianson, respectively, are longtime friends who say volunteering for Seattle Children’s is practically in their DNA. The two women grew up in the Skagit Valley helping their moms roll coins for hospital penny drives. When they started their own families, it seemed predestined that they would form a guild to support their favorite hospital.
Launched as the Skagit Valley Guild in 1982, today the Jean Thompson Guild is 34 members strong and remains committed to uncompensated care. In total, its members have raised more than $765,000 to support hospital families in need — doing everything from slinging hot dogs at a store grand opening to hosting an Amazing Race-like road rally to raise funds. The guild’s signature event of the last decade is a themed annual dinner and auction, attracting hundreds of Skagit Valley locals. The guild held a raffle this year and will resume its dinner/auction in 2022.
“I personally have not had to take a child to the hospital, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to need medical care and not be able to afford it,” Colleen says. “It’s inspiring to know we can help people who need it, including many of our neighbors in the Skagit Valley.”
Guild Association Virtual Annual Meeting Highlights
- Guild Association Board of Trustees chair Mebie Thompson kicked off the virtual series with an exclusive video highlighting the 2021 Guild Association Board of Trustees goals followed by a patient story featuring Seattle Children’s patient ambassador Kalia Benton.
- Guild members received an exclusive video message from Dr. Jeff Sperring, Seattle Children’s CEO, who outlined the many ways guilds help the hospital meet its goals.
- Guild Association Lifetime member Lauri McLeod thanked her guild’s president with the unique and lasting gift of a Lifetime membership.
- Did you know that the Guild Association staff has a combined 70 years of experience at Seattle Children’s? Pictured, clockwise from top left: Marie Jones, Barbara DeFreest, Kristina Lin (with her son Teddy), Janice Brinschwitz, Aileen Kelly, Emily Downing and Melissa Cardenas.
Thanks to your support, United in Hope raised more than $5,600 for mental health services at Seattle Children’s! Here is one story about how your gifts make a difference to kids and families in our region.
Seattle Children’s Helped Reese Reach a Life Worth Living
In the sixth grade, Seattle Children’s patient ambassador Reese Patterson, experienced vicious cyberbullying from peers. The problem intensified to the point that she began cutting herself and having suicidal thoughts. She was referred to Seattle Children’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) and released after a seven-day stay. However, Reese still struggled, and she attempted to take her own life by overdosing on pills. She was readmitted to the PBMU, and this second stay yielded better results.
“My perspective changed,” Reese says. “It was more productive in that I no longer wanted to feel the way I was feeling.”
Reese was also put on the waiting list for Seattle Children’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. This intensive outpatient cognitive-behavioral therapy is for teens 13 to 17 who have ongoing trouble regulating emotions and lack effective coping skills. The DBT program serves those who have thoughts or plans of suicide, have made suicide attempts, or have injured themselves on purpose.
There was a waiting period of a few months, and in November 2018, Reese’s mom Val received the long-awaited call for Reese to join the program.
DBT psychologist, Dr. Nicole Stettler, helped Reese evaluate her thoughts and feelings and come up with ways to help her manage her depression and urges to hurt herself.
“Reese and I worked on what we always target first in DBT — life-threatening behavior,” Stettler said. “She was approaching the anniversary of completed suicide by a friend, and that was on her mind. We look at what was driving suicidal thoughts and self-harm behaviors and started to learn and apply DBT skills to stop the chain of events of taking actions on thoughts and urges.”
The DBT program consists of weekly individual therapy, weekly multiple-family skills groups, and phone coaching between sessions. Staff meet regularly to ensure they are providing the best care to patients. Reese’s team included Stettler, a parent coach, skills group leaders, and a psychiatrist.
“The goal of DBT is to build a life worth living by taking suicide and self-harm off the table as options, so that we can help put other skills and behaviors in place to reach that life worth living,” Stettler says.
After a little over a year of weekly DBT sessions, Stettler saw significant changes in Reese’s behavior and knew Reese was ready to graduate from the program.
“She wrote me a letter I still have a copy of that was incredibly moving in that she shared how much DBT and the work we did together impacted her life,” Stettler says.
“The DBT program changed our lives — and saved Reese’s,” Val says. “Our family learned to communicate better, cope with small and large challenges, learned mindfulness techniques and strategies to help ourselves and others. It didn’t fix the bullying situation for Reese, but it armed her with the skills to cope with her feelings, manage her emotions, and let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter.”
Today, Reese is thriving, and she wants others struggling with mental health issues to know: “No one can change your mindset other than you. The biggest takeaway I received from my experiences is that nothing is going to change unless you’re ready to make that change.”
Guilds Say Yes
The Pat Harris Trilogy Guild held its first Trilogy Trek-a-Thon on May 1. More than 120 people chose a route on wooded trails, the sidewalk, or completed their “walk” virtually. Two Seattle Children’s patients joined in this family-friendly fundraiser with their grandparents, who are guild members. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the inaugural event was limited to friends and family, but guild members plan to expand the trek next year. It was the guild’s most successful event to date, raising $10,000 for research and uncompensated care!
During March, the new Nurturing Neurons Junior Guild hosted their first event: NeuroART, an opportunity for students from elementary through high school to explore the field of neuroscience. Participants blended scientific knowledge and artistic talent to create visual art pieces inspired by the nervous system. Prizes awarded for the top three pieces included virtual SAT tutoring sessions and art-related gift cards. The guild raised X for the Seattle Children’s neuromuscular program!
The Sequim Guild has hosted two virtual silent auctions this year. Skillfully using Facebook to help maximize their online fundraising efforts, participants bid from the comfort of their own homes on items ranging from a beautiful handmade reversible quilt to an antique Victorian carriage. Combined, the auctions raised more than $2,600 for uncompensated care and research!
On Feb. 14, the Allen Miller Guild hosted their annual For the Love of Children’s 5K. The event was a hybrid — virtual and in-person — and happened with nearly a foot of snow on the ground! In addition to the 5K walk, the event featured a 50/50 poker run and raffle baskets. The guild raised $2,245 for uncompensated care!
Each year, the Friends for Life Guild sells uniquely designed hand-blown candle votives and glass ornaments inspired by the artwork of a Seattle Children’s patient ambassador. This year, Oliver, 9, designed a beautiful multi-colored piece for the guild. Sales of these art pieces raised more than $25,000 for Seattle Children’s High-Risk Leukemia Program!
On May 1, the Eastside Friends for Children’s Guild hosted a virtual version of their annual Black and Bling auction. The event included an online auction with items including amazing trips to Bali and Italy as well as one-of-a-kind art and a wine tasting! This year the guild will support both uncompensated care and mental health at Seattle Children’s. Patient ambassador Javi Barria shared her story and journey during the live stream event, which raised more than $155,000!
The Bubble Bash Guild hosted an online giving campaign and virtual 5K in May. To date, the guild has raised more than $8,000 for Seattle Children’s Stanley Stamm Summer Camp — and more is still being totaled!
In lieu of the planned in-person event, the Friends of Kathi Goertzen Guild hosted an online giving campaign to celebrate what would have been Kathi’s 63rd birthday. Her friends, fans and family raised more than $12,500 for cancer immunotherapy research!
Bargain Boutiques Work Together to Fight Pediatric Cancer
Since 2011, Bargain Boutiques have held an annual fundraiser to benefit cancer immunotherapy research at Seattle Children’s. The pandemic didn’t stop them and in 2020, the five stores raised more than $21,000. They have collected nearly $300,000 in cash donations over the past decade!