A rush of about 80 people walked through the door of Verdugo Hills Hospital on Friday. They did not come because of a health scare, however—they were there to play some bingo.
The Verdugo Hills Hospital Women's Council hosted its fourth annual bingo fundraiser that night. To date, the organization has raised more than $3 million for the hospital, although Friday was about much more than making money.
“This is more of a 'funraiser' than a fundraiser,” said Kate Kaneko, a Women's Council member.
Len LaBella, the Verdugo Hills Hospital president and CEO, said the event really serves as more of a happy introduction of the community to the hospital.
“This gives people who may not have been able to visit the hospital a chance to actually get inside and meet some of the people here who have been supporters of us for a very long time,” LaBella said.
Chris Rothrock, who co-chaired the event with Randy Alejo-Medina, said the goal is to change the community's relationship with the hospital.
“We planned the event in-house here, so people who don't really come here unless there have an emergency can come, walk through the hospital and enjoy what it has to offer,” Rothrock said. “Usually you come here with a lot of stress and anxiety, and we want to change that.”
Those in attendance received lunch, catered by the hospital cafeteria, and a bingo card for $30. Final numbers aren’t yet available, but the Council did raise more than $2,400. Money generated from the Women's Council fundraisers this year, including the group's May fashion show and casino nights, will go toward buying infant warmers and COWS (computer on wheels) for the hospital.
Verdugo Hills Hospital gained something much more valuable than donations, if anyone who attended the fundraiser feels a little bit better about coming back to the hospital again.
“It's different from other hospitals,” said Women's Council member and hospital volunteer Ruth McNevin. “You come here to have fun and it won't be so bad to come back when you're sick.”