Location: Richmond/El Cerrito
Contact: Nina Fadelli
Location: Alameda (high school branch)
Contact: Sybil Gatling
Contact: Carol Maes
Contact: Kerry Plain
Contact: Lucy Talbot
Location: Napa/Solano/Sonoma Counties
Contact: Linda Webber
Contact: Clare McDonald
Contact: Susan Sperry
We think of our nation as founded by men of will and determination.
When it comes to healthcare for children in the East Bay, we can thank strong-willed mothers and sisters who launched Children's Hospital and then sustained it with relentless fundraising and volunteer hours.
In 1912, the Baby Hospital of Alameda County – now known as UCSF Benioff
Children’s Hospital Oakland – was opened in the former home of the McElrath family on
the border of Oakland and Berkeley. The brainchild of Bertha Wright, a visiting nurse in
Alameda County, the Baby Hospital grew from a good idea to an institution almost
overnight, thanks in large part to broad support from women of the East Bay who
sponsored the project.
Two years later, the Branches were formed. Modeled on the “Twigs” of community
support for a New York hospital, the Branches organized volunteers who put together a
variety of fundraising and philanthropic efforts – from country fairs to asking for beds
and equipment for the new hospital. The all-female corps of volunteers hailed from
across the East Bay, united by their support for a fledgling yet important resource.
Their original organizing documents stress that the Baby Hospital of Alameda County
was to care for “sick babies without regard to creed, nationality, or race.”
But, running a hospital is an expensive proposition, and in its first year, the hospital served more than 6000 patients – and ran a deficit of $1,200 per month. The need was great, but so were the costs.
The branches’ fundraising enterprises started with a fair with a country store theme.
Each branch offered items for sale, such as jams, aprons, or dolls. Raising money was
not enough; the branches established a set of rules for members so that money would
not be spent on branch operations needlessly. Somehow, the deficit was made up, and
the Baby Hospital stayed open.
These fundraising efforts continue today with a network of Branches throughout the East Bay.