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Up on the roof

January 03, 2019

Some of Elizabeth and Charlie D’Amour’s favorite letters come from people they’ve never met.

Patients write to thank them for the care they’ve received at the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care, or the solace they’ve found in the D’Amour Family Healing Garden at Baystate Medical Center.

An employee of the Big Y, where Charlie is CEO, mentioned that he found comfort in a glimpse of the D’Amour name on the garden plaque during care at the hospital.

“It’s remarkable how many lives one can touch, on so many levels, by giving to Baystate,” says Charlie. “We feel so blessed to be able to help create care environments for patients, as well as our health care professionals who do God’s work every day.”

A calming place

Following in the footsteps of his father, Gerald, Charlie was chair of the Baystate Health Board of Trustees during the expansion of Baystate Medical Center, then known as the “Hospital of the Future.”

When a rooftop healing garden emerged as an intrinsic element of the facility, “we jumped at the opportunity to be part of it,” he remembers.

“There are a lot of studies that show the therapeutic value of outdoor spaces,” says Elizabeth. “If you spend time in the healing garden, you can feel it. You might encounter a nurse finding a few minutes of tranquility at lunch, or a patient sitting in the sunshine with an IV pole, or someone deep in thought. It’s a calming place.”

Better together

In addition to underwriting the cost of the D’Amour Family Healing Garden, Elizabeth and Charlie were hands-on in creating it – both in its original form, when it was first planted six years ago, and in its redesign last summer by their landscaper, Daphne Ottani of Ottani Landscaping Design.

“We approached the garden design with the complete experience in mind,” Elizabeth explains. “We wanted to make sure there was lots of color, for instance, and we included plants that attract butterflies. We were also careful not to overwhelm patients with scent. Daphne worked closely with Baystate’s architectural professionals and clinical staff on the aesthetic aspects of the garden as well as the technical requirements, such as ensuring that irrigation systems wouldn’t affect the operating rooms directly below.”

Collaboration is a core value in every facet of life, including philanthropy, says Charlie. “At Big Y, our credo is better together. That spirit of partnership certainly pervades care at Baystate – and extends to all of us who help to support that care. We love connecting and giving back to our community in this way.”

Learn more about how you can honor a loved or remember someone special with Baystate Health Foundation.