BRAWLEY – Surrounded by twinkling lights and an auctioneer’s banter, local community members jumped in with bids to help the Pioneers Memorial Hospital Foundation raise $85,000 at the annual PMH Foundation Gala held Thursday night on the hospital grounds.
The gala is one of the biggest fundraisers for the PMH Foundation, which was founded in 1980 in an effort to help fund the hospital’s growth. Since then, it has continued to grow and fund the larger projects and improvements for the medical facility. In total, the foundation has raised over $2.6 million over the years for the hospital.
“It’s a fun time to dress up, put on a very nice event, and just have fun,” said Carter Taylor, the Foundation’s president.
This year, the theme was “New Beginnings Under the Stars,” one that Pioneers CEO Larry Lewis said is definitely part of the hospital’s future. Lewis said the hospital already has plans to renovate the pediatrics wing, add two new rooms for cardio health, and expand the professional staff so the hospital may better serve the local people.
The foundation last year paid for the purchase of a new ultrasound machine for the women’s wing. This coming year, the hospital’s pediatrics wing will be undergoing renovations.
The Margaret Award went given to Marselle Cooke, a 23-year veteran of Pioneers’ nursing administration staff. Cooke began her career at Pioneers as a prenatal scrub tech and is now the staff coordinator for the hospital. She has since been the go-to person for the hospital and PMH Foundation activities as well as volunteering in the Brawley community.
“At Pioneers, she has been an active member of the foundation for the past nine years,” said Mike Gilbert, the 2016 Margaret Award winner. “Believe me, this lady gets things done.”
Cooke said she was shocked she received the award, since normally she is the one running the event and conducting the secret interviews and questions about the Margaret Award recipients.
“This is my second home,” Cooke said. “I love it, and I promote it everywhere I go. I’m just so excited. I’m used to being excited for other people.”
The “Margaret Award” was created and named for the first honored recipient, Margaret C. Lassey, who dedicated many years of service to the Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District. Created by her husband, Norm Lassey, and other members of the Pioneers Memorial Foundation in 2004, the award is presented to those with outstanding service and commitment to Pioneers.
The annual artwork auction also took place during the gala. Artwork pieces donated by community members were placed for auction, creating a heated atmosphere among guests as they outbid each other and raised more money for a good cause.
Each year, the Jack and Eunice Fleming Memorial Art Award is given to two Brawley Union High School students. This year, Elizabeth Galvan’s “New Home” won first place and $150, while Nirvana Ochoa’s “Miracles” captured second place and $100. Spruce Farms sponsored the cash prizes for winners and both pieces were the first sold in the auction.
In total, $85,000 was raised Thursday night for the hospital foundation, and all proceeds from the gala will go towards the hospital’s upcoming pediatrics wing renovation and future projects.