Three Generations Give Back
A family is born at Memorial and gives back to the hospital that has figured heavily into their life stories
The Hansel family of Santa Rosa regards giving back as one of their core values. The warmth, hospitality and ease with which Marilyn Hansel and her daughters—Heather, Heidi and Kelly—speak about their beliefs make it apparent that a commitment to caring for our community is a way of life.
The family members are strong advocates for Memorial Hospital because of our commitment to providing excellent health care for everyone who needs it. For three generations, Memorial has played a central role in the Hansels’ lives. Births, deaths, emergencies, surgeries and hospice care—the medical events that inevitably mark all our lives, have taken place at Memorial for the Hansel family. Two of the Hansels’ four children were born at Memorial, and Heidi, Kelly and Justin, their son, all had their children here as well.
In 1961, Henry’s father, Walter Hansel, started his Ford dealership in Santa Rosa. Today, Henry and Marilyn’s son, Justin, is the third generation of the family involved in the family business.
For Walter and his wife, Alyce, Henry and Marilyn, and Henry’s brother, Stephen and his wife, Carol, a thriving family life has been about more than business. It is about community, generosity and the importance of giving back to the people of Sonoma County. Today, the Hansel family home is a center for get-togethers of family and community. Marilyn, Henry and their children are hosts to numerous philanthropic events that benefit Sonoma County—and specifically Memorial Hospital.
When we spoke with Marilyn Hansel and her daughters for this article, the conversation turned to Women’s Health at Memorial (WHAM), a women’s collective giving circle. Marilyn joined WHAM eight years ago because, “Women are the cornerstone of a family, and WHAM focuses on women’s and children’s health.” All three of her daughters are members as well. Marilyn explained that one of the reasons she loves WHAM is that she can learn about the latest developments in medicine through WHAM’s speakers, who are often physicians from Memorial.
Each year, the members of WHAM support programs benefitting women and children at Memorial. The group reviews the proposals and then decides which ones to fund. One woman, one vote. WHAM has funded programs and equipment for labor and delivery, pediatrics and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Heather DeMarinis, Marilyn and Henry’s eldest daughter, recently finished her 2-year term as WHAM President. Reflecting on what makes Memorial and WHAM special, she stated, “Memorial gives back at all levels—to those at risk and to those more fortunate. WHAM is a down-to-earth group of women. We come together to educate ourselves about new programs and procedures, and to make a difference. It’s about becoming an educated donor and learning to work together to make the most of our gifts. As an added benefit it is fun and social—and welcomes any woman interested in improving women’s health at Memorial.”
For Heidi Friedman, Marilyn and Henry’s middle daughter, the hospital is important for the excellent care it provides. Heidi gave birth to her four children at Memorial Hospital not only because of the long family relationship, but because of its well-known excellence in Labor, Delivery and Postpartum care.” She added, “It’s also nice to see physicians you know.” Kelly Hackett, the youngest daughter, a mother and RN with a Masters in Nursing, also gave birth at Memorial. Kelly and her husband were impressed with the care she received as well as with Memorial’s Labor and Delivery education programs.
The Hansels are one of many families who have multi-generational relationships with Memorial. However, the family’s dedication, drive and leadership are truly exceptional. For over 50 years, we have been in partnership with this strong family, caring for every family member’s individual needs while working together for the greater good of our community. The support that Memorial receives from families such as the Hansels allows us to fulfill our mission of “serving all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.”