It’s a Great Day to Be Alive

The pastime of upcycling, flipping and finding hidden treasures at vintage markets, flea markets and resale venues has become a national pastime. But that’s not what inspired Gary Klapperich, a 3rd generation Dexter resident and owner of Klapperich Welding since 1979, to establish the “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” fundraising event that features a rummage sale, auction, 50/50 raffle, cook-out and more. Gary was responding to a much more serious trend…he started the event to help fight cancer.

His renewed health gave him the chance to marry the love of his life, Karin, on September 13, 2014. And, yes, Gary will tell you, “That was the greatest day to be alive. She is my very best friend.”

Nearly twelve years ago, Gary was diagnosed with colon cancer. Having never been to a hospital before, he shared the diagnosis was terrifying. To treat the cancer, Gary underwent a successful surgery at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, followed by chemotherapy at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. It was during the long hours of infusion that Gary kept his spirits up with the Travis Tritt tune “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.”

Gary was so grateful for the care he received from his surgeon Jennifer Kulick, MD, and oncologist Katie Beekman, MD, and their care teams, he joined with fellow members from the Ann Arbor Fraternal Order of Eagles #2154 and the Dexter American Legion #557 to launch an annual fundraising event named for the song, to support cancer care.

They were inspired by the care Gary received and the idea that same level of care could be possible close to home for more families. They were early to join the community in supporting St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea’s current Cancer Center. Gifts made it possible to open the Cancer Center in 2014 and offer state-of-the-art radiation, chemotherapy and surgical services as well as a healing environment for personalized care.

“I wanted to show my gratitude and help others. I’m so lucky I have some great people in my life to help me do that and who take pride in supporting the cancer center like I do,” said Klapperich. “I think people are drawn to rummage sales because it’s exciting to find something others see as broken or forgotten, and you take it home and shine it up and make it new again. When you have cancer, you really rely on your doctors to fix you up and make you new again, and their dedication to giving you a second chance makes you love life more than ever.”

The “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” event gained popularity over the years. Gary and friends have raised an overall total of $275,000 in support of cancer care at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.

Today, Gary gets regular colon cancer screenings and is cancer free. His renewed health gave him the chance to marry the love of his life, Karin, on September 13, 2014. And, yes, Gary will tell you, “That was the greatest day to be alive. She is my very best friend.”

Gary, Karin and the other leaders involved remain dedicated to ensuring event guests, many who would not likely get screened otherwise, understand its benefits and know that St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea has seamless screening, diagnosis and treatment options.

“Every year, this fundraiser brings together friends and families to support the fight against cancer in our community,” said Nancy Graebner, president, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. “In no small part due to Gary’s own inspirational cancer journey, what began as a small community effort has grown to have a significant impact.”

To learn about how you can support St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, please contact
Katie Elliott, Development Director
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-3919.


If you are interested in learning more about colon cancer screening, call
734-593-5650.

Colon Cancer Screening

  • Colon Cancer Screening In 2017, there was an estimated 95,500 new cases of colon cancer in the U.S.
  • The slow growth from precancerous polyps to invasive cancer provide a unique opportunity for prevention and early detection.
  • Screening is recommended beginning at age 50 for people at average risk, and earlier for people at increased risk because of family history or certain medical conditions.

* https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures-2017-2019.pdf

The Impact of Your Giving…Through the experience and courage of a patient

Sandy Lymburner

“Recently I came across the definition of the word Courage.  It is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty or pain.  You have to have courage just to walk through these doors and hear your diagnosis,” said Sandra Lymburner, 58-year-old Ann Arbor resident, of her experience facing breast cancer. “Cancer can make you feel overwhelmed and alone. But together with your cancer team here at St. Joe’s you find the courage.  There is strength in knowing you will receive the best cancer care possible.”

Sandy Lymburner with Philip J. Stella, MD, Medical Director of Oncology, SJMHS at the 2018 Blessing and Dedication of the renewed St. Joe’s Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center.

While Sandy celebrates five years cancer-free this past September, her journey of braving a new treatment path will have an ongoing impact on others.  She’s quick to credit the cancer care and research team at St. Joe’s Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center.

Weeks after being diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast and lobular cancer in the left, Sandy underwent a double mastectomy in September 2014. Her chemotherapy port was placed the next month, fully expecting it was the next course of treatment.

But on the day of Sandy’s first scheduled chemotherapy session, Dr. Philip Stella, medical director of oncology at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, suggested she might be able to bypass chemotherapy altogether.

“He came into the room with a big smile on his face,” Sandy described. Dr. Stella had sent in her breast tumor samples for molecular testing.  Sandy had some of the lowest cancer recurrence risk scores he had seen, making her a good candidate for the groundbreaking Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx trial.  Sandy received a score of 10 and 7 (on a scale of 100), and was randomly selected to receive hormone therapy alone.

Rather than receiving infusion chemo treatments, Sandy chose to participate in the clinical trial, which includes a treatment regimen of medications to block the production of hormones and reduce her risks of the breast cancer recurring.

She also followed her cancer team’s recommendations for radiation therapy – to tackle the microscopic cells.  But avoiding chemotherapy and its drastic side effects was a huge morale booster for Sandy, who began journaling and running every day.

In 2016, Sandy completed a half-marathon, and, in 2018, to mark four years of being cancer-free, she ran her third half-marathon in Chicago on Sept. 23.

At the Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center Dedication and Blessing in December 2018, Sandy shared her experience with our community and donors as a speaker at the event, “The clinical trial allowed me to walk out of the cancer center that day without requiring chemo.  Every time I tell the story, I recall the moment I looked back at the chairs in the infusion clinic.  I was on the other side. I got to go home.  My good fortune was due to the outstanding staff in the Oncology and Research Departments at St. Joe’s and Dr. Stella. 

At that time I didn’t realize St. Joe’s is recognized as one of the nation’s best National Cancer Institute funded community research programs. They have 100 trials open to enrollment at any given time.  These studies offer investigational treatments for a wide variety of cancers, symptom management, and cancer prevention.” 

Sandy went on to explain, “The exceptional care I received at St. Joe’s has been incredible and is the main reason I decided to become an Experience Advisor.”  As such, Sandy was closely involved in the Cancer Center redesign and renovation project and found it enlightening and gratifying to have another unique opportunity to shape the care of those following a similar path.

Closing her remarks at the Dedication, Sandy shared these powerful words, “Society has labeled me a cancer survivor.  That term doesn’t really resonate with me.  I like to think of myself as a resilient fighter… Someone that didn’t know how strong she was until being strong was the only choice she had.  Thanks to my family and the staff at St. Joe’s we embraced the unknown together and I have celebrated almost five years of being cancer free.”

TAILORx trial shows no need for chemotherapy for most women with early breast cancer

The TAILORx trial, launched in 2006 and supported by the National Cancer Institute, analyzed breast tumors using the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score and assigned a cancer recurrence risk score to each individual.  Based on those scores, the trial randomly assigned participants to hormone therapy alone, or a combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Forty St. Joe’s patients participated in the trial.

In June, the National Cancer Institute said new findings from the TAILORx trial show no benefit from chemotherapy for most women with early breast cancer. Researchers hope the new data will help inform treatment decisions for many women with early-stage breast cancer, especially for those deemed to have an intermediate risk of recurrence.

To learn more about St. Joe’s Cancer Care and National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program, visit: stjoesannarbor.org/cancer

To make a gift to St. Joe’s Ann Arbor “Life is Remarkable” Campaign
Cancer Care Innovation Endowment Fund today, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/ann-arbor

Or to learn more about how you can support this important effort, contact:
 Katie Elliott at
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-3919
Karen Campbell at
Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-2890
Melissa Sheppard at
Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-4079

(Source: “Gift of Health” Fall 2019)

Defining Mercy: Jim and Robin Henderson

Robin and Jim Henderson chose St. Joseph Mercy Oakland as their hospital to deliver their four children in the 1970s, and have given generously to support vital expansions and innovative programs throughout the hospital for more than three decades. 

“Our four kids were born at St. Joe’s.  And, since then, we’ve been able to watch the hospital grow and progress over the years and have seen the way it helps people and saves peoples’ lives,” explained Jim as he and Robin accepted the hospital’s Mercy Legacy Award this year, presented by Shannon Striebich, President, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. 

Throughout the years, the Hendersons have maintained a close relationship with the hospital and made gifts to support areas of great need.  

As part of the 2002 West Wing Campaign, they made a generous gift that allowed St. Joe’s to establish the “Robin L. & James E. Henderson Medical Clinic,” a teaching clinic for residents and fellows at St. Joe’s.  The Clinic provides primary care and specialty services such as cardiology and pre- and post-surgical care to more than 1,000 patients each year. 

When St. Joe’s Oakland launched the Future is Now capital campaign, the Hendersons were among its biggest supporters.  The Campaign helped fund the new Patient Tower, Surgical Pavilion and leading-edge technology that has garnered six consecutive annual awards as the “Most Wired” Hospital by the American Hospital Association.   

The Hendersons’ insightful giving toward the Campaign allowed St. Joe’s to implement an incredible technological feature, the Surgical Pavilion’s Patient Tracking System to transform the waiting experience for family members who are given regular updates via a screen in the waiting room.  Each patient is assigned a number to protect privacy and when the surgery is complete, the surgeon provides a personal update. 

“It’s just a short period of time in the hospital, but it’s a very emotional and intense time,” said Jim regarding the wait family members have during a loved one’s surgery.

The Hendersons have been true partners in St. Joe’s mission providing support for advanced medical services as well as compassionate and spiritual healing.  Following their gift for the Surgical Pavilion, they made a gift to name the “Robin L. and James E. Henderson Reflection Garden.” 

“This is one of my favorite spots on campus… it’s just so beautiful.  If you haven’t visited the reflection garden, I invite you to discover the peace and tranquility that patients, colleagues and guests have come to know,” said Shannon.  “The Henderson Reflection Garden is an outdoor sanctuary.”

Most recently, the Hendersons made a transformational gift to name the “Robin L. and James E. Henderson Dental Center,” celebrating an ongoing partnership with the hospital, and meeting one of our community’s greatest needs.

The Hendersons’ inspirational giving has allowed St. Joe’s to expand and enhance our patient-focused dental center – one of only a few hospital-based dental centers in the state, providing specialized care to those with disabilities as well as serving families who are uninsured or financially insecure.

Their gift was the capstone of a two-year campaign to raise funds to expand the dental center. The expanded clinic has five treatment rooms, a laboratory workspace for the dental residents, a complete instrument sterilization area, and a private consultation/classroom area.  One of the treatment rooms has a floor-mounted hoist that can lock into a wheelchair so it can be tilted back like a dental chair to enhance comfort and safety for patients while they are receiving dental treatment. 

“Regular dental care and good oral health are essential to overall health, self-esteem and quality of life,” said Craig C. Spangler, DDS, Program Director Emeritus for the General Dental Residency.  “The Hendersons, and all those who have supported the clinic, have made it possible for those patients with barriers to dental care to receive comprehensive dental treatment while training the dentists of tomorrow.” 

The Henderson’s generous gift is making a difference for the 600 patients who visit the Dental Center each year.  Some of these patients have not had dental treatment in many years, and present with treatment challenges that may be treated in the clinic, or require treatment in the operating room under general anesthesia.    

Jim has shared, “Robin and I view our contributions to St. Joe’s over the years as something we just wanted to do because we thought we could help a few people be a little better off than they otherwise would have been.  We’re delighted St. Joe’s has been able to provide that help to so many people in need.”

“Having philanthropic partners like the Hendersons allows St. Joe’s Oakland to be an innovative leader in health care and to sustain our commitment to serve all those in need,” said Shannon. “We are grateful and inspired by Jim and Robin’s vision and ongoing investment in St. Joe’s, our healing mission, and the patients we serve.”

To make a gift today, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/oakland

To learn more about St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and ways you can support our healing mission, please contact The Office of Development at:

Jana McNair, Regional Director of Major Gifts
248-858-3556 or
Jana.McNair@stjoeshealth.org

Craig Peiser, Director of Major Gifts
248-858-6142 or
Craig.Peiser@stjoeshealth.org

 Jill Schubiner, Gift Officer
248-858-6146 or
Jill.Schubiner@stjoeshealth.org

Be Passionate About Your Community

Renee and Ed Chodkowski are avid supporters of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Local Care.

Message from Renee:

Ed and I always feel excited to support St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton. Community support of local businesses – in this case, local WORLD CLASS health care – is one of my passions as a citizen and as “The Great Foodini*.” I have a story, and this is why I am so committed to St. Joe’s and their remarkable Transformation project right here in Livingston County.

My story….my dad died at 45 from heart disease. His dad died at 42 from heart disease. His brother and sister barely made it to 60. Heart disease. My mom died of lung cancer at 52. My goal is to live 25 out of my 24 hours every day.

When we were working as a family to get care for my dad, we found ourselves traveling two and three states away for meetings, surgeries, consultations and treatments. It was a logistical nightmare and financially impossible to get what was considered the best care. It was never spoken aloud, but I know that weighed heavily on my dad and I believe he would have been with us longer had great health care been local.

My mom’s story is similar – her best treatment was a thousand miles away, next best was 50 miles away, but between Michigan winters, serious commuter traffic, parking nightmares and waiting, a half hour treatment was a full day’s work. It exhausted her and she ultimately declined treatment. I believe she would have been with us longer had great health care been local.

There are two takeaways from my story.  One is how important local care is, and St. Joe’s has demonstrated unwavering commitment to Livingston County. Second, education is key to prevention with so many illnesses. St. Joe’s has so many health education, screening, diagnostic, prevention and health management programs available – right here in Livingston County. You should see their new healthy education kitchen! (See article below). Foodini was excited! This is part of the ongoing Transformation project.

“St. Joe’s and the patients we serve benefit greatly from passionate support like the Chodkowskis give.  We are so grateful to have them as partners,” said John O’Malley, president, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston.  “As donors and volunteer leaders, Ed and Renee help ensure our community has high quality, high value, compassionate and local care.”  

Renee (*aka The Great Foodini) believes anyone can learn to prepare healthy, delicious meals.  She teaches and presents both home cooking and worksite wellness programs for all ages and groups sizes but her favorite is her home base demonstration kitchen at Cleary University in Howell.  She is regular on Livingston County’s 93.5 WHMI FM; has achieved national acclaim on FOX’s reality series “MasterChef,” was recognized in the “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” Contest on ABC’s “Good Morning America;” and was selected by Red Gold Tomatoes as one of the top seven food writers/bloggers in the U.S.  Renee is a tireless volunteer leader in support of farm-to-table cooking, good nutrition for all ages, fighting hunger and making nutrition a part of healthy living. 

Outside the kitchen, Renee and Ed have been married for over 38 years, and have lived in Livingston County for 40 years.  They raised their children here, who are both graduates from Howell High School, and were born at St. Joe’s (when it was still named McPherson Hospital).   As part of a healthy-lifestyle, Renee and Ed enjoy playing tennis, traveling, scuba diving, and golfing, and of course eating the healthy meals Renee prepares.

Ed and Renee are champions for St. Joe’s, including serving as co-chairs for the 2019 Livingston Ball last April.  The couple is most passionate about partnering with St. Joe’s on local care, prevention and treatment through healthy eating, and making a lasting impact on the community.

First Intensive Heart Health Rehab Program in Livingston County

Your investment in St. Joseph Mercy Livingston is an investment in innovative, evidence-based, local health care.  In November 2018, we opened the county’s first intensive heart health rehab program, Pritikin ICR™ (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation). 

“The Pritikin program has proven to be very successful for patients at high risk for a cardiovascular event, and we are thrilled to offer this program to Livingston County to improve the health and wellness of our local community,” said John O’ Malley, president of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. “This is one example of our commitment to transforming care.”

Numerous studies have documented the Pritikin program’s ability to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and blood sugar control and reduce other lifestyle-related risk factors.

Patients benefit from Pritiken’s three-pronged approach that focuses on: healthy eating, healthy mindset and exercise. 

At St. Joe’s Livingston, exercise physiologists facilitate individual and group workshops, yoga therapists lead our mind body workshops and yoga classes, the program includes personalized counseling and coaching, and nutritionists lead classes in meal planning, supermarket shopping and cooking – all in a renovated space including a gym, classrooms and demonstration kitchen.  Patients learn skills they can use in every-day life to improve their health.  Cardiac rehab can reduce the risk of dying or having another heart attack by as much as 30 to 50 percent, according to the American College of Cardiology. 

For more information, please call St. Joe’s Cardiac Rehab at 517-545-6385. 

To make a gift in support of innovative, quality, local care today, visit:
giving.stjoeshealth.org/livingston

Or, contact the Office of Development:

Tina Casoli, Director of Major Gifts
517-545-5156 or
tina.casoli@stjoeshealth.org

Lindsay Debolski, Gift Officer
517) 545-5151 or
Lindsay.Debolski@stjoeshealth.org

(Source: Gift of Health Fall 2019)

Spoken from the Heart: St. Mary Mercy Livonia Angileri Colleague Education and Professional Development Fund

For a young man, moving to the United States in the 1950s was a big opportunity, but Frank Angileri admits he felt lost at first.  He had taken some English courses while working toward his degree at Palermo University in Italy and while he excelled in grammar, he struggled with the spoken language. 

Frank came from a working class family and moved to Detroit with his wife, Bessie, for employment, “I came over penniless,” he says.  But, he brought his work ethic with him, willing to take on many jobs including his first at Sanders, cleaning the mixers used to make decadent swirls of frosting.  From there he stocked bags on each of the 27 floors at Hudson’s, the once-towering hub of style and prestige on Woodward and Gratiot in downtown Detroit, where he made many friends.  Finally, Frank’s native language became an asset when he began translating articles from English to Italian for a Detroit area newspaper.

Then in 1953, Frank “discovered America.”  He was offered a position in the auto industry.  Following a year at Chrysler, Frank took a role as a quality engineer for Ford Motor Company.  A position he held for 34 years, retired from, and, when he missed working, used to launch a 16-year career in quality consulting. 

Writing presentations for Henry Ford II and traveling to visit partners throughout the nation were two of Frank’s favorite roles at Ford.  All of his hard work (sometimes 7 days a week), his analytical mind, his eye for perfection and his charming ways were appreciated and respected greatly by his employer and co-workers. 

Frank was living his dream, working in a prestigious, well-paid position, owning a nice home, traveling and enjoying the love of his life.  He and Bessie traveled to Italy nine times, they took cruises, and enjoyed gourmet meals at restaurants and those that Bessie prepared herself.  He gleams with pride when talking about the time she took first place for her baked lasagna in a Redford Township cooking contest.

When Bessie became ill with dementia and needed care at St. Mary Mercy Livonia, Frank recognized that having the best trained nurses, clinicians and doctors made the experience, even such a hard one, better.  He was extremely grateful for their expertise and their care.  “Everyone needs to be treated like a human being, like they matter. The nurses and doctors were knowledgeable, thorough and kind.”

Years later, Frank also needed care at St. Mary Mercy and he says that he would never want to go to another hospital, “the people at St. Mary treat you like family.  I enjoy spending time talking with people and getting to know them.  Some of the staff even came in to spend time with me on Christmas Eve.”

Frank has chosen to make a substantial planned gift to support St. Mary Mercy Livonia, and while he has not restricted his gift, he sees ongoing training for physicians, nurses, clinicians and staff as very important – quality training is something he feels passionate about and would be proud to support.

Bessie lost her battle with dementia in 2014.  Frank shared the touching story of her last moments.  Frank held Bessie’s hand and asked her to remember him.  He asked, “who am I?” Bessie responded, “I don’t know.” “Who am I?” Frank repeated. “I don’t know,” she said.  “It’s me, Frank,” he encouraged.  Bessie looked at him and responded, “Frank,” and closed her eyes and died peacefully.

The power of words and language has been so meaningful in Frank’s life. His conviction learning English, a language he describes as “beautiful.”  Crafting words for Ford presentations and often editing for his co-workers, “me, the imported guy, editing English,” he says.  Even the time he presented to Fiat and Ford executives, translating between Italian and English.   And, the most meaningful, the last word Bessie spoke, his name.  Frank’s planned gift to St. Mary Mercy was made in gratitude for the care he and Bessie received.  “I have been so fortunate in my lifetime and I want to give back,” explains Frank – proving the language of kindness, of generosity, of love…is universal.

Sustaining excellence requires attracting and retaining the best staff who continually strengthen their knowledge and expertise to provide patients with the latest, most advanced and compassionate care.

Since this story was published, Frank Angileri has confirmed the beneficiary of his estate plans, allowing us to name the St. Mary Mercy Livonia Angileri Colleague Education and Professional Development Fund, in recognition of his vision and generosity.

To make a gift in support of St. Mary Mercy Livonia, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/livonia

Or, contact Colin Berens, Director of Major Gifts, at 734-655-2876 or Colin.Berens@stjoeshealth.org.

To learn how you can support Saint Joseph Mercy Health System through a legacy gift from your estate, contact Katie Elliott, Director of Planned Giving, at 734-712-3919 or Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org.

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)

Great Minds – Suzanne and Raymond Baber, Jr., Endowed Fund for Nursing Education

Nick Nickolopoulos and Suzanne Baber

With a commitment to education and helping others, Sue and Ray Baber built a legacy of supporting St. Joe’s Oakland, most notably as volunteers and through gifts to establish the Suzanne and Raymond Baber, Jr., Endowed Fund for Nursing Education.

The Path to Giving Sue grew up in a small farming village near Grand Rapids, but as an avid reader, her mind and dreams were expansive.  Her interests led her to Central Michigan University where she majored in English and teaching, and later to University of Michigan for a counseling degree. For tuition, Sue relied on scholarships and work study roles like cafeteria dishwasher.  Her commitment paid off with a 19-year career in her beloved fields. Fortuitously, Sue also led a Future Nurses Club at the high school where she taught. 

During his life, Ray Baber was an avid supporter of education. Ray served as a United States Navy Pilot, led General Motors Truck and Assembly and was the Vice President for Campbell Ewald’s Chevrolet account team.  He knew the value of good training and accredited education for much of his success.  The couple generously supported Kettering University and Central Michigan University as well as other organizations.

When they retired in 1996, Ray and Sue wanted to give back to the doctors, nurses and hospital they trusted with their health. They began to volunteer at St. Joe’s. Ray was a greeter, and Sue was assigned to the ICU.  At first she checked people in and out, but her diligence and good nature quickly led to greater responsibilities on the unit. It was during that time Sue began to bond with the nurses.

Making a Difference

“When I was with the nurses in the breakroom, many shared their interest in education like seminars or advanced degrees, wishing they had the means. And, I always wanted to do something to help,” explained Sue. “As patients, Ray and I noticed the staff was very caring and we were impressed by the hospital’s investment in making staff feel confident in their roles. We wanted to build on their commitment because nursing education benefits the nurse, their colleagues, and the patients.”

The Babers’ support has strengthened the nursing education program, funding an onsite annual conference, off-site seminars, certifications, and advanced degrees (see sidebar).

“I started at St. Joe’s as a patient care tech, and Sue always encouraged me to continue my education and broaden my career,” said Nick Nickolopoulos, Director of Nursing – Medical-Surgical/Critical Care/ Nursing Resource Pool. “She is inspiring. And, Sue and Ray’s gifts have strengthened the skills and passion of many nurses at St. Joe’s.” Nick is among the many nurses who became friends with Sue.

And, Sue feels the same way about them. “When I lost Ray in 2005, returning to my volunteer work at St. Joe’s was really important to me. I don’t have any siblings – the nurses are like my family.”

Today, at 90 years old, Sue has retired from volunteering and saves her energy for tai chi and aqua aerobics, “it keeps me going,” she says. She has stayed connected to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Lake Orion, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and St. Joe’s McAuley Club. And, of course, she continues to read a lot, visit St. Joe’s (she’s especially fond of the Robin L. and James E. Henderson Reflection Garden), and remains in touch with many of the nurses at St. Joe’s. 

“Our nurses, and ultimately, our patients, are so fortunate for the Babers’ generosity,” said Dawn Hanson, Nurse Manager ICU and Scholarship Committee Co-chair. “Sue taught me to be a mentor. It’s an honor to hold true to the integrity of the Babers’ intentions to help nurses build resilience, compassion, and expertise. Both personally and as a nurse leader, I’m extremely grateful to Sue for her friendship and time and to her and Ray for their foresight and gifts.”

Since the article was written, The Suzanne and Raymond Baber, Jr., Endowed Fund for Nursing Education was recognized at the 2019 McAuley Club and Mercy Heritage Society Annual Appreciation Dinner for its ongoing impact, benefitting more than 50 nurses this past year through support for ongoing education including scholarships, graduate residency support, trauma symposiums and national conferences.  Nick Nickolopoulos was promoted to Chief Nursing Officer of St. Joe’s Oakland sister hospital St. Mary Mercy Livonia. 

Nursing Education Achievements 2016-2017

  • 35 Nursing Scholarships (July 2016 – November 2017)
  • 180 nurses attending bi-annual Emergency and Critical Care Conference – onstie at the hospital
  • 3 ICU nurses attended the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Comprehensive Unitbased Safety Program (CUSP)
  • 2 nurses became Certified Emergency Nurses
  • 2 nurses became Critcal Care Registered Nurses

To make a gift to St. Joe’s Oakland, visit:
giving.stjoeshealth.org/oakland

Or, contact the Office of Development

Jana McNair, Regional Director of Major Gifts, at 248-858-3556 or Jana.McNair@stjoeshealth.org

Craig Peiser, Director of Major Gifts, at 248-858-6142 or Craig.Peiser@stjoeshealth.org


Jill Schubiner, Gift Officer, at 248-858-6146 or Jill.Schubiner@stjoeshealth.org

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)

A 50-year Relationship Sparks a Gift for the Future

Jabara Family

Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, with Julia and Kal Jabara at the fall 2015 event celebrating donors who supported the Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair for Surgery – the first endowed chair at St. Joe’s

“If a hospital and its staff could be members of someone’s family, St. Joe’s and its doctors and nurses would be a part of ours,” said Julia Jabara. 

Kal and Julia Jabara moved to Plymouth, Michigan, with their children in 1968 and started Wild Wings and Kincaid Art Galleries, one of Kal’s many business ventures. At that time, they also began a nearly 50-year relationship with St. Joe’s. 

The Jabaras have held together through many health trials that have only strengthened their family’s love and inspired them to give back to their community.  A number of years ago during an appointment with Dr. Whitehouse, Julia asked, “When will someone be raising money for a Whitehouse professorship?”  The family felt Dr. Whitehouse should be recognized for his expertise, the respect he shows patients, the mentorship of surgical residents, and the kindness he practices every day. In 2015, when they posed the question again, Dr. Whitehouse shared St. Joe’s plans for an endowed chair.  A few months later, Kal, Julia and their son Dean arrived at St. Joe’s to present Dr. Whitehouse with the family’s leadership gift. 

With the Jabaras’ extraordinary support as well as gifts from patients, physicians and staff, more than $1.5 million was raised to establish the Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair for Surgery – the first endowed chair at St. Joe’s. 

It was soon followed by a second, the M. Hugh Solomon, MD, Endowed Chair for Urology. Again, the Jabaras chose to make a lead gift, this time to recognize and thank Dr. Solomon for the exceptional treatment and compassionate care he had provided Kal.

The Jabaras’ gifts not only reflect their gratitude, but also their own personal commitment to others and our community. For many years Kal and Julia served as lead volunteers with the Kidney Foundation in Michigan. Kal has promoted local artists especially through the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. He was president of the Plymouth Rotary twice and of the Oilman’s Club as well as a volunteer for the Salvation Army in Detroit. Kal recently joined friend Howard Tanner in Michigan State University’s Project F.I.S.H. an educational program offered through local schools for youth and families.

“We are pleased to give back to a hospital that has meant so much to us and to our children,” said Julia Jabara. “And, we wish God’s Blessings on you all.”

“The Jabaras vision, encouragement and leadership gifts for St. Joe’s first two endowed chairs are inspiring and will sustain medical and surgical excellence as well as our healing mission,” said Katie Elliott, Director of Development at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Dr. Hugh and Mrs. Solomon with Kal and Julia Jabara

Thank You to Our Donors

St. Joe’s is grateful to the Jabaras and the generous donors who supported efforts to establish our first two endowed chairs named for Doctors Whitehouse and Solomon. Your recognition of our leaders will make ongoing excellence possible.

Income from the Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair for Surgery and M. Hugh Solomon, MD, Endowed Chair for Urology will be used under the discretion of the Department Chairs, not for salaries or supply purchases, but for programs and projects that elevate St. Joe’s culture of research, learning and mentorship as well as innovative care.

The Solomon Endowment reflects Dr. Solomon’s leadership and dedication to continually improving urological treatments – bringing new technologies and protocols to St. Joe’s, providing patients with personalized care that has immediate and lasting benefits, and creating a healing environment. Dr. Solomon’s accomplishments are a cornerstone for the future of Urological care.

The Whitehouse Endowment recognizes all Dr. Whitehouse has made possible and the foundation of surgical excellence he has created through leadership, scientific study and patient-centered care; the enhancement of surgical care, the construction of St. Joe’s state-of-the-art surgery centers, the success of surgical residents, and the lives he has touched.

To make a gift today, visit  
giving.stjoeshealth.org/ann-arbor

Or to learn more about how you can support St. Joe’s, contact the Office of Development:

Katie Elliott, Director of Major and Planned Gifts
734-712-3919 or
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org  

Karen Campbell, Gift Officer
734-712-2890 or
Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org  

Melissa Sheppard, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
734-712-4079 or
Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)

Giving Back is Our Philosophy- Luanne and Howard Booth

13 years ago, when Luanne Booth was treated for endometrial cancer, she never expected to be facing the disease again. The surgery went well, lab results indicated the cancer was gone, and her prognosis was good.  But in January 2017, Luanne received the diagnosis that the cancer was back and a second surgery was not an option. She didn’t hesitate. She knew exactly where to go for treatment, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Cancer Care Center.

Luanne and her husband, Howard Booth, moved to the area from Ypsilanti where he had been an Eastern Michigan University physiology/ biology professor and vault coach for 47 years and she had been Head of Middle School at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor.  They found St. Joe’s Chelsea near their new home to be a first class hospital with the small community feel that inspired their move, and have trusted the hospital with their health care needs ever since.   

One of the most impactful moments Luanne recalled from her treatment was Dr. Rebecca Liu, a specialist in gynecological cancers, recommending a clinical trial. Luanne and Howard felt it was important to participate. “While we hoped the trial protocol would help fight my cancer, we also highly value scientific study and the difference it makes improving treatment,” explained Luanne.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is one of only 34 National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Programs (NCORP), and holds the highest grant score in the nation.  St. Joe’s NCORP, housed in Ann Arbor and offered through all our Cancer Centers in Chelsea, Brighton, Livonia, Canton and Pontiac serves 5,000 patients eliminating the costs, health risks and stress of traveling by bringing research trials close to home.

“I feel so lucky I was a candidate for the trial arm of the study. It is in the second phase and showing promising results,” Luanne said.  As part of the trial, Luanne underwent rigorous treatment including radiation five days a week for five weeks while undergoing chemotherapy for one day a week for 7 hours each time, which caused debilitating side effects. Following that, Luanne was treated with three sessions of outpatient brachytherapy, benefitting from the continuum of care between St. Joe’s Chelsea and Ann Arbor, housing one of the nation’s few high-dose-rate / low-dose-rate brachytherapy surgical suites.

Through it all, Luanne maintained her positive outlook and gratitude for the care she received. Most of all, she admired the staff’s professionalism, warmth and kindness, and personal interest. “You don’t really know the depth of the preparation and side effects of treatment until you’re going through it, and the staff is with you every step of the way, helping you cope, encouraging you, and gently managing things like your violent stomach upset, fatigue, and collapsing veins. You can tell they love their jobs and their patients.”

The Double Ribbon Mobius is a 9-foot tall coated aluminum sculpture chosen for its dynamic, strong and heart-like appearance. The Double Ribbon Mobius is a 9-foot tall coated aluminum sculpture chosen for its dynamic, strong and heart-like appearance.

During treatment, Luanne and Howard also noticed the beautiful, well-appointed features donors made possible. “When you go into St. Joe’s Chelsea Cancer Center, and you’re so warmly received by the

 concierge Ken and department secretary Betty, they have set up a convenient card swipe for check-in, there is a warm fireplace, comfortable seating, gorgeous paintings, the food is like room service, you make friends with all the patients and spouses, and the staff is so cheerful, there is just one thing that doesn’t fit, the view out the window to the bleak rooftop,” explained Luanne. “Howard and I have a philosophy, we give back any way we can. I’m a musician and painter, so the idea of beautifying the rooftop with a sculpture appealed to us.  We wanted our gift to make the experience even better for other patients and to be a lasting reminder of our gratitude to the staff for their wonderful care.”

“Howard and Luanne Booth’s generous support is making our incredible Cancer Center even better,” said Judy Stratman, Director of Development. “We are fortunate to have supporters who understand the important role that art plays in the healing experience. Their gift will have a lasting impact on patients and families who rely on St. Joe’s Chelsea for cancer care.”

I Feel Lucky

Luanne Booth wanted to do more than sit on the sidelines watching her husband, Howard, a World Champion in pole vault and other track events and current men’s vault coach at EMU, so she also joined the Michigan Senior Olympics.  She has run in distance and sprint competitions and qualified for the nationals.

This same champion spirit helped her get through cancer with courage, hope and determination. Just three days after finishing a three-month-long rigorous treatment plan at St. Joe’s as part of a phase 2 study that included beam radiation, chemotherapy and brachytherapy, Luanne joined Howard for a trip to Washington DC for the 2017 National Street Vault at Freedom Plaza. The treatments were physically draining and she spent the trip in a wheelchair, but she was not going to miss it.

“I got around pretty well,” Luanne said. Today, less than a year later, Luanne is building up her strength and stamina to run again, is filled with vibrancy, and takes walks every day.  Her resilience and healing journey inspire everyone she knows and meets. Luanne will tell you, “I just feel very lucky.”

Howard and Luanne Booth 2013 Senior Olympics

For information about cancer services call 734-712-HOPE or visit stjoeschelsea.org/chelsea-cancer-care.

To make a gift to St. Joe’s Chelsea today, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/chelsea

Or contact the Office of Development:

Katie Elliott, Director of Major and Planned Gifts
734-712-3919 or
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org  

Karen Campbell, Gift Officer
734-712-2890 or
Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org  

Melissa Sheppard, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
734-712-4079 or
Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org

(Source: “Gift of Health Spring” 2018)