When Jeff Miller, CFRE signed on as Vice President for Philanthropy at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts, he knew that the hospital – founded in 1896 – had a long, proud history of support from its community. One of his first initiatives was to turn a spotlight on that heritage.
The philanthropy of past generations shone through the institution’s architecture and clinical programs. However, formal donor recognition – in the form of plaques, statuary, and other commemorative installations – was limited. And computerized donor records only went back as far as 1999.
“There were rooms named in honor of donors, that kind of thing,” Jeff remembers, “but we knew that there must be more recognition on-site, in less prominent places.”
“You can’t move forward without understanding your past,” he adds. “We felt it was important to bring our philanthropic history into the light by locating and displaying those heritage recognition pieces.”
We were thrilled when Jeff called Honorcraft to help with the project – and even more thrilled when our LegacyCuratorTM team’s roof-to-basement recognition inventory revealed a wealth of philanthropic heritage. We found photographs, historic documents, beautiful bronze plaques, and more. It’s all captured now in an extraordinary, multi-textured legacy wall featuring much of that material, along with four full displays of donor names and a very moving quote from a book published by a former hospital employee.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Jeff says. “We really uncovered so much of the history of the hospital.”
The hospital hosted a special event to unveil the legacy wall – the first in an ongoing series of large and small interactions sparked by the installation. “The event was a really nice opportunity for people who had been less involved to re-connect,” Jeff says, “and the legacy wall has been a touchstone for further community engagement on several levels. We get comments about it all the time.”
This display includes all donor names discovered during the LegacyCurator inventory. The donor name panels and historic photo frames are designed to be easily updated.
“Every hospital has its own unique story,” he notes. “It’s important to tell that story in a compelling way – to honor the past, but also to inspire current and future donors.”
As Elisabeth C. Davis wrote in her book, “Child of The Whole People” which catalogs the founding and history of Brockton Hospital:
At the heart of history, giving warmth and feeling to the “cold facts,” is the art of remembering. Pictures and plaques, memories and nostalgia bind the bricks and mortar and the charts of progress with the personalities, the humanness and the reasonings that made history happen. History, recollection, reminders of the richness of the past are at the foundation of progress, a challenge to build on the foundations already laid. Nostalgia belongs chiefly to those who ‘knew the hospital when.’ Some of the ancient landmarks, customs and traditions are gone forever, except in memory. But keeping those memories alive, even though they seem quaint and archaic in retrospect, is a way of keeping alive the spirit in which the hospital was founded.
For more information about LegacyCurator by Honorcraft, please visit or contact Rebecca Jamison at firstname.lastname@example.org/~honorcraft