Season's Givings: Children's Hospital Board Member Helps Raise Money for Programs

As part of KPCC's month-long "Season's Givings" series, Kitty Felde profiles Childrens Hospital Los Angeles board member Mary Adams O'Connell. O'Connell was a candystriper for the hospital a half century ago and now helps raise money for the facility.

Kitty Felde: I'm Kitty Felde with Season's Givings.

Mary Adams O'Connell: My name is Mary Adams O'Connell.

Felde: Mary was a candy striper at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles nearly 50 years ago.

O'Connell: My mother had been involved with Children's Hospital and she suggested that I do that. And I think, you know, like many teenagers I was very self-centered and, you know, wanted to be with my friends and out. But I saw my mother doing these things, and she volunteered at our school and I thought well, gee, maybe she's right for once, you know. And I tried it and it was just, it was an amazing experience, and one that I'll never forget.

One of the young children there who was being treated there for burns on the bottom of her feet. Her parents had dipped her in boiling water because she was crying so much. At Childrens Hospital they were adding skin to the bottom of her feet which had just curled up so she couldn't walk. It was just one of many very strong memories of the wonderful things that they do there and how rewarding that work is in volunteering.

Felde: Today, Mary Adams O'Connell runs her own investment management company. But she's still volunteering at Children's Hospital.

O'Connell: Well, I'm on the Board now. It didn't come from me. I think my husband said, "Oh, you could do that."

Felde: Board members help raise money for hospital programs, but Mary Adams O'Connell says she's most proud of a public health event she planned for the centennial of Childrens Hospital. That convention of health providers grew into a permanent database that maps the health resources available in Southern California. Now, says Mary, she's looking to do even more.

O'Connell: It really is true that you get more from it than you ever give. And if you've done it, then you know that that's true.