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RCS “Heart Art” to Warm Hearts at Howard Memorial Hospital

Human Interest

WILLITS, CA – Last week, Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital (HMH) received a very special piece of art from Redwood Children’s Services (RCS), won during an auction at RCS’ Kentucky Derby Fundraiser last month at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits. 

While the art stands out for its vibrant colors and creativity, what makes it so special is that it was made by foster children and youth that are part of RCS, and to HMH CEO Jason Wells, it tugged at his heart. 

"One of the things HMH is known for is our beautiful hospital filled with professional artwork from across Mendocino County. When this powerful piece of 84 hearts was unveiled, created by kids whose lives have been touched by the team at Redwood Children's Services, I felt the most deserving place to display this creation was in a prominent location at Howard Memorial Hospital," he shares. 

The stunning piece of art features hand drawn hearts and each one is unique and has a story to tell. RCS Executive Director Camille Schraeder explains, “For these kids, RCS is not just a place they get services. It is often home, a family, a place where they’ve found refuge and that feeling of being wanted, a safe place and so much more.” 

The collaborative art piece was made by youth, staff, foster parents and even a few little ones (see the wee hand and foot prints!) at the RCS Arbor and Harbor Youth Resource Centers in Ukiah and Lower Lake. 

RCS has provided services to youth, families, and the community across Mendocino and Lake Counties since 1995. One youth exclaimed as they were making this one of a kind piece of art “I hope it raises a lot for RCS!” And it did after quite a bidding war. Schraeder adds, “Working together to create this was a way for the youth to contribute to the agency that supports them, giving them a feeling of pride, belonging and significance. They may need RCS, but RCS needs the youth, staff and community in order to do the work.” 

“As a father of three, I can only imagine what these children have gone through. Our region is so blessed to have RCS to help turn things around. RCS gives our youth and children a chance at a fresh start. We work closely with RCS and feel privileged to be able to help these kids in our own way when they show up in our clinic or at the hospital,” Wells added. 
More than a piece of art, the piece is a symbol of hope and how the community comes together for our children and youth.

“Howard Hospital is the perfect home for this piece. They are at the heart of caring for our community and they are very much involved and committed to improving people’s lives beyond just healthcare,” shares Schraeder. 

And the hospital has found the perfect spot for it -- in the lobby of the emergency department. 

“It breaks our hearts when these children come to us and we can only heal their physical pains. But RCS helps them with the emotional pains and much more. This will be a great reminder to us, of why we do what we do every day-- that in some small way, we’re making a difference in these kids’ lives,” shared Amy Buckingham, emergency services director. 

The new vibrant piece of art will be a great addition to the 200+ pieces of art already on display at the hospital. “It couldn’t have been more perfect. I have heard our volunteers comment as they tour guests around the hospital that Howard is the only art gallery open 24 hours a day, seven days a week in our region. Patients, guests and Howard team members love looking at all these one of a kind artwork pieces done by local Mendocino artists on our walls,” explained Wells. 

“Now there’s a piece from our children and youth. I’m sure it will touch our staff and patients’ hearts just as it did mine.”