“My joy, my heart, my passion is to spread to the community what we’re about. And I’m overjoyed to be part of this mission.”
– Susan Shaw
From the Harp
Hospital benefactors give in honor of inpatient rehabilitation caregivers
Susan Shaw has always been comfortable with helping others.
She recalls her mother raising funds for the construction of the town hospital in Wadsworth, Ohio. Susan’s own spirit of service, which began as a candy striper in high school, would lead to an impressive list of philanthropic leadership roles — including those on the Damas de Caridad, the St. Jude Women’s Guild and the Providence St. Jude Memorial Foundation Board of Directors.
It was all the more surprising when Susan discovered she would be calling on her friends at Providence St. Jude for help — an experience that she describes as life-changing.
In December 2019, while hanging Christmas decorations, Susan fell from a 10-foot ladder onto a stone floor. Her injuries were potentially catastrophic. But with expert care from the Providence St. Jude clinical team, she began the long process of healing.
“It was a terrible experience,” concedes Susan, “But I only have happy memories of it.”
Many of those happy memories came from her time recovering at Providence St. Jude’s inpatient rehabilitation unit. With the help of the physical therapy team, Susan’s body grew stronger. But the experience also brought about a deeper transformation.
“It wasn’t just that I got well, but my heart is filled with such love for our mission,” she explains. “It’s renewed. It’s reinvigorated. And I really came to this new place in my life while I was recuperating.”
One caregiver in particular played a pivotal role in that transformation: senior recreational therapist Jason Schwab.
“We immediately clicked,” reflects Jason, “not only in the therapy, but also in conversations about the culture of giving that she feels passionate about.”
On the evening before her graduation from the rehabilitation unit, Jason gathered the patients to toast Susan with a farewell dinner. Susan recalls another patient — a harpist — being visited by her family, who had brought along her harp in hopes that she could play for the dinner guests.
“She had been injured, and her fingers wouldn’t work yet, so, Jason called on me,” remembers Susan. “Of course, I had no idea how to play. But they brought it over to me, and I did the strumming … and suddenly I was playing the harp! It came from my heart to her heart, her heart to my heart.”
Later, when Susan was recuperating at home, she discovered a gift her father had given to her as a child. Tucked away in her jewelry box was a delicate charm — a golden harp. “I had it made into a necklace,” says Susan. “I wear it every day in remembrance of what Jason did for me.”
Susan and her husband, Mel, have chosen another special way to honor Jason Schwab and all those who cared for her. Recently, the family made an exceptional gift to support the inpatient rehabilitation program at Providence St. Jude Medical Center.
Impacting thousands of patients in the Fullerton area, the rehab unit remains one of the Foundation’s fundraising priorities. The Shaws’ philanthropy will allow many more of our neighbors to benefit from world-class rehabilitation therapy after acute injury or illness.
Over the years, the Shaws have also given generously to other areas of priority, including the Northwest Tower, palliative care, 3D mammography and the simulation lab.
Susan sees their gifts as both an extension of her own desire to help others, and an expression of her gratitude toward the entire hospital community.
“Providence St Jude is my hospital,” proclaims Susan. “I wouldn’t be here today without the work of this ministry. My joy, my heart, my passion is to spread to the community what we’re about. And I’m overjoyed to be part of this mission.”
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