NWA in the Spirit of Giving

​Nancy knows what it is to have a child in the hospital, life disrupted by critical situations beyond a parent’s control. When the new Sutter Santa Rosa Hospital was being built in 2015, generous donations from Bill & Elizabeth Shea and from the community funded the Shea House within walking distance of the hospital. This comfortable home opened its four bedrooms that same year to provide a safe place of respite for out-of-town families to be close to their hospitalized children. Each year it provided temporary, no-cost respite to over fifty families who were able to stay as long as sixty days, close to their babies and in the comfort of a real home.

Nancy filled the new hospital with art, all carefully chosen and placed to support patients and staff in their mission of healing. It was only natural that she would donate her time to assist in placing art in the Shea House as part of that enormous project.

In October 2017, the fires that devastated Santa Rosa spared the hospital but not the Shea House. Gone was the family oasis. Gone was the donors’ quilt that hung on the wall in the living room, along with all the other priceless art so carefully chosen only two years before. While the Shea House burned, the hospital itself was spared. Doctors and staff worked through those long nights providing much needed care to the patients. They remained even while their homes burned, and their own families evacuated.

The loss was so much more than physical. Hearts were broken, but the spirit that created Shea House was not. Rebuilding efforts were started as soon as the fires were quenched and the debris was cleared.

​In the weeks after the fires, the community mobilized to help in any way possible. At Fitch Mountain Elementary school in Healdsburg, CA, 5th graders decided to practice language skills by writing thank-you notes to the doctors who they saw as heroes and healers.
When she saw the cards, Nancy was reminded of her own cards, given to her when she herself was ill and then turned into art that started her career. She had the foresight to scan each thank-you card before they were mounted and displayed at a celebration honoring the staff. Nancy then arranged to have those scans turned into quilt squares that could replace the quilt lost in the fires.

Her networking paid off. Partnering with Penny Cleary, the Director of Development for North Bay Sutter Health, and The Pointless Sisters, a quilting art guild in Sonoma County, the thank-you cards are becoming a new quilt that will hang in the rebuilt Shea House. But the giving did not stop there. In June of 2018, the quilt was featured at a fundraiser that raised in excess of $150K toward offsetting the expenses of housing families until the Shea House can be rebuilt. Everyone will celebrate at the Grand Reopening Ceremony this fall! All the time invested and the skillful work to make this happen has been donated by everyone involved.

To Nancy, this is another gratifying way her experience with art, illness, and networking can help heal a community. At the Shea House, her ability to take a dream and make it a reality once again benefits families in need of comfort and care.