Ann Thornton believed in the Sampson Regional Medical Center Foundation, her son said, and she prided herself on working hard to help the organization raise needed money for various hospital projects.
That’s why, Greg Thornton acknowledged this week, his mother would be honored and humbled that she and her beloved husband Albert will have the 2012 Tree of Love dedicated to their memories.
The actual tree-lighting ceremony will be held Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. on the lawn of the Woodside Professional Building, weather permitting, followed by a reception in the hospital’s front lobby. Donations are already being accepted and the tree lighting and reception are open to the public.
” My parents were deeply committed to our community,” Greg Thornton said, “and my mother was especially committed to the SRMC Foundation. Our family is humbled to have this year’s Tree of Love honor our parents, and they would have been, too.”
At last year’s Tree of Love ceremony, the ever visible and community-minded Ann Thornton gave a tribute to 2011 Tree of Love honoree Wanda Boyette, and after the ceremony talked about the significance of the tree and the importance of the money it raised.
“This is always a special time,” Thornton said in 2011. “The Tree of Love symbolizes so many things. It offers hope, it provides needed funds for different projects each year and it’s a way for people in our community and beyond to offer special love to friends, neighbors and acquaintances.”
Donations to the Tree of Love can be made in memory or in honor of anyone and can be of any dollar amount a person wishes to give, noted Brenda Warren, executive director of the SRMC Foundation.
Warren said when it came time to decide who this year’s honoree would be, Ann Thornton was the hands-down choice. “It was unanimous from the start. And, the board thought it only appropriate to include Ann’s beloved Albert, as well. She would have loved that.”
The couple, Warren said, had made a significant impact on Sampson Regional Medical Center through the years, as well as on the community. “Although they both are no longer with us, their influence lives on and can still be felt just about anywhere you go in Sampson County.”
Albert Thornton died in the early 1990s; Ann died last January.
Ann Thornton was a charter member of the SRMC Foundation Board from its formation in 2002, and she served nine continuous years on the board, the maximum any one person can serve. She had served as both the board’s vice president and its president in 2011 before becoming, in 2012, an honorary Foundation board member.
“She remained active on the board,” Warren recalled, “even attending the quarterly board meeting last Jan. 10, the same week she died.”
Warren said Ann Thornton was instrumental in the success of the Foundation’s capital campaigns for the Center for Health and Wellness, as well as the Sampson Regional Medical Cancer Center.
“Although I only knew Albert on a personal level, I remember his great business mind and his active involvement in the community,” Warren added. “It truly was only fitting that we honor both of them for their leadership and contributions to Sampson Regional and Sampson County.”
Where the money goes
Donations to this year’s Tree of Love are being designated for the remodeling of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit waiting area.
According to Amber Cava, director of marketing and community relations at the hospital, staff often hear remarks about the ICU waiting area, with many visitors there expressing a desire for a more comfortable surrounding.
“We look forward to being able to update the area with nice furnishings, more comfortable seating and better accommodations for our patients’ families,” Cava said.
Additional funds will also go toward purchase of observation cameras for the hospital’s new Safe Suite, which is expected to open at the end of the year. “This is a new secure area next to the Emergency Department where we can hold mental health patients awaiting appropriate placement at another facility,” Cava noted.
“Sometimes it may be days, and in some cases even weeks, before we have a transfer for mental health patients in our emergency department.” The Safe Suite, she said, will provide four rooms where hospital staff can give those patients an area that is safer and more comfortable for them for the length of their stay.
Greg Thornton said his mother would be pleased that donations in both her memory and his father’s memory would be going to such great projects.
“She believed in the Foundation and the areas in which it worked to raise money. I urge anyone who wants to honor my parents to please remember a donation to the Tree of Love and the hospital in their holiday gift-giving this season.”