Blessings for kids
Providence Hood River
Providence Hood River provided $6,323,000 in community benefits in 2010, including $3,849,000 in free or reduced-cost care to patients in need.
Seventh-grader Claudia Caldera knows just the place to hang out in the little town of Odell, a farming and fruit-packing community six miles uphill from Hood River.
It's a place where she can play pingpong, dance with girlfriends to the thumping vigor of a Justin Bieber song (away from boys prone to call their moves "so dumb") or slip into a quiet room for homework help.
"A lot of people said it was so cool here," Claudia exclaims, recalling how friends' enthusiasm first brought her to St. Francis House, which receives ongoing support from Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.
A colorful mural of St. Francis of Assisi blessing children and animals stretches across one wall of this drop-in youth center. For Claudia and other underserved local kids ages 8 to 17, St. Francis House offers a fun, safe environment after school and on Saturdays that promotes personal and academic growth.
"Our motto is 'Creating a place where it is easier to be good,'" says Patrick Rawson. He and his wife, Becki, both Providence employees, led the founding of St. Francis House in 2007. While providing boys and girls with recreation, homework help and computer access, the faith-based nonprofit also fosters respect, compassion and community service.
Supported by community partners and run by volunteers, including an AmeriCorps worker, St. Francis House has received "incredible" help from Providence, Patrick says. Providence funds allowed the facility to expand into adjacent space last year that now houses a center for homework, crafts and other quiet activities as well as a food bank. The funds also provided basketball hoops for the outdoor play area.
Often, Claudia joins in the end-of-day ritual at St. Francis House. Kids can choose to light a candle and name something they're thankful for. "And I say my family and stuff... like friends. Everything, I guess," Claudia says, smiling.