TACOMA, Wash. – Mary Bridge Brigade, an organization of volunteers whose mission is to support Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Network, celebrates its 100th year with a $10 million donation for the new Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital building.
In July 2020, MultiCare announced plans to build a new Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital facility. This $10 million commitment from the Mary Bridge Brigade is one of the largest gifts ever to Mary Bridge Children’s. The gift will be recognized by naming the new building’s emergency department in honor of the Mary Bridge Brigade.
“We are so grateful to the Mary Bridge Brigade for this incredible gift,” said Jeff Poltawsky, president and market leader of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Network. “Mary Bridge Children’s exists today because of the vision community members had years ago to bring expert medical care to children in Tacoma. Their vision lives on and this gift will be remembered for generations to come.”
Founded in 1921 by Gertrude E.V. Baker, the Mary Bridge Brigade was originally called the Tacoma Orthopedic Association (TOA). Together with a group of 15 women, Baker established the TOA with the dream of opening a dedicated children’s hospital in Tacoma.
“The story of Mary Bridge Children’s is one of true community partnership and dedication,” said Dianne Hargreaves, president of the Mary Bridge Brigade. “A century later and our mission remains the same – to raise funds and ensure that children in our community have access to the compassionate and comprehensive medical care they need, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.”
Grassroots fundraising and advocacy are part of the Mary Bridge Brigade’s legacy. In its early days, the women collected and sold tin, and held penny drives, charity events and bake sales. Today, the Mary Bridge Brigade raises money through campaigns and events organized and hosted by members of its 30 guilds – groups of community leaders, Mary Bridge Children’s staff, families, former patients and volunteers who work to raise awareness and support for the hospital.
In 1947, the TOA received a large gift from the late A.W. Bridge, a Tacoma physician who left money in his will to open a children’s clinic in honor of his mother. With this gift, and the funding they had raised through grassroots efforts, the TOA had enough to build a children’s hospital. In 1955, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital opened its doors.
The Mary Bridge Brigade is the hospital’s largest donor and since its founding, has contributed more than $50 million to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Network.