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Washington Hospital Employees Make a Difference

November 14, 2006

Employee Association Pitches in to Give Women’s Shelter a Facelift

    Washington Hospital employees rolled up their sleeves on national Make a Difference Day, Saturday, October 28 to give a local battered women’s shelter a facelift. The Washington Hospital Employee Association (WHEA) painted, landscaped, and replaced some furniture on the national day set aside for making a difference in someone’s life.        

    Celebrated on the fourth Saturday in October each year, Make a Difference Day was started by USA Weekend Magazine and is held in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation and the Volunteer Center National Network. The power of the day is in individuals making small changes for the better.

    "We want to give back to the community we live and work in,” says Mary Kinnear, president of WHEA. "Washington Hospital employees donate their time and resources to a variety of noble causes throughout the year and WHEA is committed to supporting and assisting local organizations that make a positive impact on people’s lives.”        

    The safe house can accommodate 30 women and children at a time and is run by SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments), a nonprofit agency that serves victims of domestic violence in the Tri-City area. Women can stay at the shelter for up to 90 days.

    Women and their children end up at the shelter when their situations have taken a turn for the worse. The shelter provides emergency assistance to those fleeing abusive relationships at a confidential location.       

    SAVE works to end the cycle of violence through support services, advocacy and education. The agency operates a 24-hour crisis line staffed with specially trained family violence counselors who can offer emotional support, crisis intervention counseling and information referral.         

    Alameda County receives about 10,000 reports of domestic violence each year, according to SAVE, and only about 10 percent of cases are ever reported. 

Hospital Treats Victims of Violence

    "Our Emergency Department sees firsthand what domestic violence does to the women and children who live with it,” Kinnear says.         

    At the shelter, women and their children receive emergency food, clothing, and transportation to help them in the short-term. SAVE also provides services to help them get back on their feet in the longer-term, such as counseling and assistance with legal issues, employment and housing. 

    "This will really spruce up the shelter. We’re very grateful,” said Leslie McGarry, development officer at SAVE. "It feels better to be in a nice place, especially at a traumatic moment in your life. This will help us make it more comfortable, welcoming and warm.”        

    The shelter has seven bedrooms and four bathrooms. The common living area consists of a kitchen, living room and den.        

    Washington Hospital employees have taken the women’s shelter under their wing, refurbishing the entire house from top to bottom for Make a Difference Day in 2003. That job was a massive undertaking that took $20,000 and 106 employees to complete. Employees remodeled the house, painting every room and replacing flooring, carpeting, bathroom sinks, drapery, window blinds, furniture, bedding and light fixtures.         

    To learn more about SAVE, visit To reach the crisis hotline, call (510) 794-6055.

WHEA Gives All Year Long

    The Washington Hospital Employee Association supports many charitable organizations including: The Salvation Army, Tri-City Homeless, Tri-City Volunteers, SAVE, One Child and Rotary International by raising funds through drives and fundraising events such as the annual Fremont Festival of the Arts parking drive which brought in nearly $8,000 this year.   

    WHEA also uses proceeds to help support programs directly related to patient care that include the Washington Hospital Community Mammogram Program and Lymphedema Services. In 2005, WHEA raised and contributed nearly $10,000 to help support the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the Southeast Asian tsunami. 

    WHEA conducts several annual donation drives that have a great impact on children. This September, Washington Hospital employees donated 40 backpacks filled with school supplies for the kids at SAVE during the annual Back-to-School drive.

    "During this time of year WHEA conducts several food and clothing drives that help the less fortunate in our community.” says Kinnear. "The generosity of our employees is a great morale boost and I think as care givers, it means a lot to hospital workers to see people benefit from their donations.”

    For more information about Washington Hospital and its programs and services, visit