Coins in a Fountain Give Good Help to Those in Need

When a 41-year-old truck driver who “never missed a day of work in his life,” contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever, he was out of work for three months. Trying to support two children, the man also faced having to pay $880 for 10 days of IV antibiotics after he was discharged from the hospital.

When a woman was put on bed rest in the 27th week of her pregnancy due to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, she wasn’t sure how she would pay her rent. Because her last pregnancy had ended with the loss of her baby in childbirth, she couldn’t be too careful.

The help for this truck driver and young mom came, in part, through the quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies tossed into the fountains at St. Francis Medical Center. The two-story waterfall inside the lobby and the water fountains on the grounds were installed to weave nature into the healing environment—just as all of St. Francis was designed to reflect the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of nature.

But a bit of serendipity has flowed from the fountains and the goodwill of little children.


From the love of children

“After we opened, people began putting money in the waterfalls,” said Sr. Tess Horvath, S.U.S.C., Vice President of Mission at St. Francis. “If you just sit in the lobby for a little while, you will see children— young and old—running to the fountains. And before long, their parents are digging in their pocketbooks for change.”

When the facilities team cleaned out the fountain change for the first time in 2006, no one expected there to be so much. Just before Christmas 2006, Sr. Tess was presented with a box covered with a big red bow. Inside lay 700 one-dollar bills—all collected from the fountains. In spring 2008, the fountains poured forth another $1,300.

It was immediately decided that those coins should be donated to the St. Francis Care Fund. Sr. Tess, Dede Foerster, Director of Volunteer Services at St. Francis, and a group of St. Francis volunteers had originally begun the fund, and they continue the work of overseeing it.

“It’s because of the mission of Bon Secours to give good help to those in need and also the spirit of St. Francis who had a special love for the poor,” Sr. Tess explained. “When we opened, we knew right away that we wanted to reach out to those in need.”

The St. Francis Care Fund “assists individuals in financial distress who have recently been discharged from Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center. This fund was established by Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center Volunteer Services department and is used to support St. Francis’ patients in a safe and healing environment,” according to its mission. The fund assists both in- and out-patients. Its money comes from the fountains, but also from donations by individuals, groups and the United Way. Dede Foerster administers referrals for the fund.

If you would like more information about how to donate or refer to the fund, e-mail or call 594-7806.