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:

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

Craig Peiser, Director of Major Gifts
248-858-6142 or

 Jill Schubiner, Gift Officer
248-858-6146 or

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

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  

Karen Campbell, Gift Officer
734-712-2890 or  

Melissa Sheppard, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
734-712-4079 or

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)