Two generations of support and commitment

Portrait of foundation trustee Gina SmithSt. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation recently announced that foundation trustee Gina Smith has established a charitable trust to support the future expansion of Dignity Health St. Mary’s Medical Center’s emergency room.

Gina said her gift was inspired by the excellent care received at the hospital by her late mother, Dorene Smith, as she struggled with breast cancer. Gina and Dorene were both real estate agents and project managers who have long histories of philanthropy and leadership within the St. Mary’s community.

Dorene was the first female project manager for S & S Construction, a division of Shapell Industries, which developed several upscale housing tracts in Long Beach, Calif. During the 1960s, Dorene sold several homes in Bixby Hill to doctors from St. Mary’s. Many became close family friends and, through them, Dorene learned about St. Mary’s mission. She became an ardent supporter of its annual gala and other fundraisers, inspiring daughter Gina to follow in her footsteps.

Gina, who also worked as an agent and manager for S & S Construction, was particularly moved by the courage and compassion of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, when they opened the St. Mary’s C.A.R.E Program.

“It was such a frightening time,” says Gina. “So many people would have had no place to go if it weren’t for St. Mary’s.”

The C.A.R.E. Program, along with other St. Mary’s Medical Center services focusing on the poor, elderly, and sick, have inspired Gina’s deep involvement and generosity with the foundation over the last four decades.

Gina is excited about the plans to expand the emergency room, which will be named after Gina and her mother. Gina knows from first-hand experience that the emergency room staff is of the highest caliber.

“These people are dedicated,” she added. “They devote their lives to helping others. And they are so kind.”

Gina said this most recent gift was her way of expressing gratitude to St. Mary’s Medical Center and the Long Beach community for giving so much to her and her mother throughout their lives.