Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation honors its best | TheUnion.com

Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation honors its best

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

The Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation honored "the best of the very best" of its volunteers Thursday night, presenting awards to three individuals, a couple and a group who have all volunteered, supported and advocated for quality health care.

Nearly 200 people applauded the award winners at a reception at the Gold Miners Inn in Grass Valley.

Carry Canady was presented the Curtis Grimes Perpetual Leadership Award, named after one of the founders of the hospital foundation and presented to the volunteer who demonstrates outstanding healthcare leadership.

Canady served as the foundation's chief financial officer from 2006 until her retirement last year.

"I'm somewhat shocked and humbled, and incredibly appreciative," said Canady, who called the hospital "our greatest community asset."

Canady added she feels honored to be in the company of past winners of the Perpetual Leadership Award.

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"I feel like I am among an incredibly amazing group of people who earned this award in the past," she said. "My husband and I are so grateful to live in this welcoming and inclusive community. It's easy to get involved and give back to the community."

Nan Drummer was honored as Volunteer of the Year. She's a multi-tasker, working in the foundation's office, helping complete projects, and organizing events. She also serves on the foundation's Outreach/Volunteer Committee. Drummer volunteers five to 10 hours every week and often takes work home to complete it.

Drummer said volunteering at the foundation is "a natural fit" because healthcare is part of her family values.

"My father was a cardiovascular surgeon at Mercy San Juan Hospital," she said. "I worked in surgery and was also a school nurse. When we moved here from the Bay Area seven years ago, working with the hospital became very important to me. It was a natural fit. The better the hospital is, the better off the community is."

Dr. Terry Prechter and his wife Robin were named the Glaister A. Dawkins Humanitarians of the Year. The foundation's board of directors created the award in 2002 to honor western Nevada County residents who have made humanitarian contributions at a global level. The award is named after Glaister "Dee" Dawkins, a prominent local humanitarian and physician who founded Miners Family Health Center (now Western Sierra Medical Clinic) and passed away in 2009.

For more than three decades, Terry has provided free dental care to people with disabilities. He and his wife have traveled to countries including Nepal, Guatemala, New Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, and Columbia to offer dental and medical care to underserved communities. Robin worked more than 40 years at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, including 10 years as head nurse in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

"It was a total surprise to find out we were awarded this honor," said Terry. "So many of our clinic team members could easily have gotten the award, as far as Robin and I are concerned."

"I was really shocked," said Robin. "You do things because you enjoy doing them with people you admire."

"We've been in this community for 45 or 50 years," continued Terry. "The hospital has always held a special place for us and the community, and we hope it continues with its mission."

The owner and namesake of Antonio Ayestaran Custom Catering earned the foundation's Business of the Year Award. Ayesteran said his two boys were born at the hospital, and that's just one reason he supports the hospital foundation.

"I've catered various events for the foundation, including Starry, Starry Nights, for the past 10 years," said Ayestaran, referring to one of the foundation's most successful and elegant annual fundraisers. "The hospital is an important part of our town. Ours is a small community made up of many small businesses like mine. I've been in business 12 years and it's nice to be recognized."

A group calling itself "The Stonebridge Artisans +2" received the Volunteer Group of the Year Award. The group's members are Dick and Ann Mentzer, Bill and Karen Seckington, John "JV" and Missy Nichols, Steve and Martha Dasovic, Larry and Cathy Jostes, Jake and Janice Bronson, Bill and Ann Hendricks, and Dave Hood.

The group has spearheaded the decorations for four major foundation fundraisers with international themes, from The Raj to Havana, and from Moulin Rouge to Venice.

Not one of the members has a background in design, so how does the ensemble pull off stylish and extravagant decorations at sumptuous events?

"It just comes naturally," Dick Mentzer said in mock modesty.

The group's members are all neighbors in a subdivision called Stonebridge in Nevada City. They say the award — and the hospital — are dear to their hearts.

"I think the award is great because we're getting old and we need all the medical help we can get!" said Mentzer. "Seriously, we need to sustain the local medical assets we have."

The hospital foundation was formed in 1984 to support Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, financially and in many other ways. Through its dynamic volunteer members and their generous philanthropy, the foundation helps the hospital provide exceptional healthcare services. Foundation Board President Marty Lombardi was effusive in his praise of the volunteers lauded Thursday night.

"The folks being honored this year are absolutely the best of the very best," he said. "Each one had exactly the same humble response when notified they were being honored this year. They were embarrassed to bring attention to themselves and the wonderful work they quietly do. Their stories are so inspirational and remind each of us that we can do better in terms of doing the sacred work of serving others."

Kimberly Parker, the foundation's executive director, said it's important to recognize the important role volunteers play in the hospital's successful mission.

"The volunteers contribute so much," said Parker. "It's not just their passion and caring about the hospital and the hospital foundation, but they also bring a real monetary value doing the work they do. They give of themselves in so many different ways. They bring the value of all their time, talent, and treasure."

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.