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The Stanford Home for Convalescent Children, affectionately known as the Con Home, played an important role in the history of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Founded 100 years ago in 1919 by Dr. D. Charles Gardner on the grounds of the Stanford family estate, the Con Home earned a reputation for providing excellent care for children. By the time Stanton “Stan” Chew arrived at the Con Home in 1957, it had already been a place for other children to rest and heal for decades.
The philanthropy and commitment of dedicated care team members, volunteers, and Auxiliary members helped shape the Con Home and the way the community supported children’s health.
From the earliest days of the Con Home, a group of women in the community came together to form the Charter Auxiliary and support care for local children. Each of the Auxiliary’s 25 members contributed $12 the first year the Con Home opened, a significant donation that would continue the development of the Home.
As the Con Home expanded, so did the Charter Auxiliary and their contributions. Eventually, the Con Home evolved into the Children’s Hospital at Stanford in 1970 and later Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in 1991.
Stan was admitted to the Con Home twice, and has one particularly strong memory from when he was 8 years old. He remembers that the 1959 World Series was played during his second inpatient stay; the Los Angeles Dodgers were facing off against the Chicago White Sox.
Children at the Con Home were treated for an array of chronic illnesses, including tuberculosis, or, in Stan’s case, asthma. Stan spent about nine months there and remembers his days as a patient following a loose schedule. Children with respiratory conditions like his breathed oxygen from an oxygen tank first thing in the morning. Then, after breakfast, the boys and girls attended school in a nearby building. In addition to school, there was physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). He fondly remembers making pottery bowls, lanyards, and wood projects during OT.
“In the evenings, we played board games and bingo,” reminisces Stan, “To this day, I still remember one of the volunteers teaching me how to ride a bike. This was special because I never owned my own bike until several years later.” Holiday festivities included carving pumpkins during Halloween and making Christmas decorations using paper, glitter, and glue.
When recalling the most significant part of his stay at the Con Home, Stan sits in contemplation and responds very matter-of-factly, “The volunteers.”
Community members visited the Con Home to provide entertainment and teach the kids games and skills that they would be able to hone during their stay. The volunteers arranged hikes, played board games, led Cub Scouts, and facilitated holiday activities. Even a young undergrad named Lucile Salter, who would later become Lucile Salter Packard, volunteered there in the 1930s, where she became inspired to take an active role in the health of her community’s children.
With the help of the Charter Auxiliary and subsequent Auxiliaries, the Con Home’s legacy of extraordinary care can continue through Packard Children’s. Today there are nearly 1,000 members in seven Auxiliaries spanning from San Francisco to San Jose, all supporting our hospital with their time, talent, and treasure. Their century of service and dedication to children’s health is inspiring.
Stan has benefited greatly from the philanthropy of the Auxiliaries. Now 68 years old, he continues to receive treatment at Stanford Hospital and recently had an opportunity to tour the new Packard Children’s Main building. When asked what he would like to say to those who have supported children’s health over the years, making a difference for him and the generations of children who followed, Stan simply says with a genuine and warm grin, “A big thank you.”
From the Con Home to Packard Children’s, we thank our amazing Auxiliaries for their commitment to children’s health!
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