Lead Gifts of $500,000 and $200,000 to Dominican Hospital Foundation Launch Healing Gardens

Maureen and Norman Benito

The Dominican Hospital Foundation has received two lead gifts — $500,000 from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation and $250,000 from community member Maureen Benito — to launch the Healing Courtyards Initiative at Dignity Health Dominican Hospital. The Healing Courtyards Initiative will transform six garden areas on hospital grounds to reduce stress and promote healing for patients and their families. A number of scientific studies prove that gardens in hospital settings lower stress levels, reduce the need for pain medication, and result in shorter hospital stays. Phase 1 includes a Rehabilitation Garden, and a new Central Surgery Lounge, Courtyard and Terrace.

Designed by physical, occupational, and speech therapists, the newly named Monterey Peninsula Foundation Rehabilitation Garden will serve patients recovering from stroke, brain or spinal surgery, head trauma, and joint replacement. A variety of pavement surfaces, stair configurations, and pathways will help patients navigate with walkers, wheelchairs, and canes in a real life environment. Other features, such as a putting green, will be used to relearn balance.

We're excited to support Dominican Hospital Foundation in their new endeavor, especially the creation of a putting green designed for rehabilitation,” remarked Steve John, CEO of Monterey Peninsula Foundation. "As the host of both the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach golf tournaments, it made sense for us to support this life-affirming outdoor garden. The therapeutic use of golf will help patients on their healing journey."

The Central Surgery Courtyard will be named for Norman and Maureen Benito, in recognition of Maureen’s $250,000 gift in memory of her husband Norman. “We go back years with Dominican Hospital,” says Maureen. “We were the first ones to walk through when it was first built. We were very close with the nuns. It was like our second home.” In 2014 at the age of 82, Norman passed away, surrounded by his family. In Maureen’s words, “I just want his memory to live on forever because he was such a good man and so fond of the hospital. People really need that place inside the hospital to spend time by themselves or be with their families. “I think it’s important to give people that space, and I know Norman would really like that, too.”

These lead gifts, along with funds raised from the Dominican Hospital Foundation’s Holidays d’Eleganz Gala and significant employee and Foundation board member gifts, have brought in more than $2 million towards the project’s Phase 1 goal of $2.8 million. The Foundation is actively raising funds to ensure that Dominican Hospital can complete all three phases of the Initiative, which also include the Family & Newborn Courtyard, the Meditation Garden, the Front Plaza Entry, the Healing Orchard and the Meadow Courtyard.