GRAND RAPIDS — Area movers and shakers gathered Saturday evening at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids to pay homage to the recipient of this year’s Fred and Lena Meijer Spirit of Caring Award, Dr. Joyce London.
London was tapped last September to receive the award. Saturday’s banquet also served as a fundraising effort for Spectrum Health United’s planned obstetrics expansion and renovation.
London has long been a supporter of the Spectrum’s Tree of Lights and has repeatedly contributed substantial donations to the hospital’s Building Healthy Futures campaign.
Additionally, London serves on Greenville’s Board of Appeals and is one of the founding members of the Women’s Action Network, an organization that provides scarves, wigs and hats to cancer patients.
Last year’s recipient, the Rev. Jerry Jones, introduced London and presented her with the award.
“The Fred and Lena Meijer Spirit of Caring Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to improving the quality of life for people in our community, now and for future generations,” Jones said. “The award is named after Fred and Lena Meijer in honor of their longstanding commitment and dedication to the Greenville and Lakeview communities. Each recipient is selected based on that same spirit of selfless community support and participation the Meijers have exemplified for decades.”
Jones went on to relate the events of the evening last Sept. 27, when London learned she would be receiving the award. London was attending the ceremony at the Winter Inn restaurant in Greenville with the belief she would be congratulating a friend who had been chosen as a recipient.
However, as Jones described the accomplishments of this year’s winner, London realized she was to be receiving the award. At the time, London said, “I’m never quite sure why people are so nice to me. I’m always amazed at how Greenville is in terms of caring and giving. This community is as great as it is because of the kind of people that are in it. It’s just a day-to-day thing for them to care about the people around them and do nice things for them.”
Greenville resident and Daily News columnist Maureen Burns commented, following the ceremony and dinner, that she could think of no better recipient for the award than London.
“I think Joyce is the perfect choice for this year’s recipient,” Burns said. “She does so much for the community.”
Prior to the auctions, which made up the fundraising portion of the event, the gathering heard from Spectrum Health Foundation Director Shelly Westbrook, who laid out the hospital’s plans for expansion and renovation of the OB department.
At present, Westbrook said, some of the rooms in the OB do not have many of the amenities — such as private showers — that have become the norm at most facilities. The planned expansion would remedy this situation. Westbrook also expressed gratitude to the those gathered for their help in making the expansion a reality.
“I’m thankful for each and every one of you here this evening,” Westbrook said. “Because of you we will be able to expand and renovate our OB department. There’s something magical about interacting with a baby that ignites something magical in all of us.”
Another Spectrum obstetrician, Dr. Connie Januzelli, also thanked the gathering, while pointing out the very real need for an expanded OB department at the hospital.
“I’ve practiced obstetrics in Greenville for 15 years,” Januzelli said. “That first year, we delivered 300 babies. This year we’re on track to deliver 500. That’s a lot of sleepless nights. To accommodate this, we have added staff, going from two obstetricians to four.”
The fundraising auctions — one silent, the other traditional — featured many “big ticket” items like vacations, get-away packages, wine refrigerators and dozens more.
Funds raised from the annual event will go toward creating five new private postpartum rooms, adding another labor and delivery suite, installing a new nurses’ station with enhanced security, and creating a new guest lounge, nourishment room and storage room for medication.