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Evening of Hope event, pictured, was held during summer of 2021.

Gratitude to Carry Us Through

December 21, 2021 Posted in: Stories of Giving  4 minute read time


This summer ushered in new beginnings and time to reflect on our blessings after a challenging year. At the CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations, there is a lot for which to be thankful.

It would be difficult to find someone who is more grateful for new beginnings than a cancer survivor, and their stories are why the Foundations worked so hard in 2021 to raise money on behalf of so many facing the awful disease. Limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the community from raising $370,000 for cancer care through the Foundations’ innovative Evening of Hope event on May 15.

“Nonprofits rely on events income to meet their mission needs,” said Leslie Smart, president of the CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations. ”The CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations needed a unique way to ensure we could continue to invest in our mission and support our oncology needs across the hospitals and facilities that we support. Our patients and families depend on us, and dollars raised with help advance this critical care.”

In 2020, more than 26,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Kentucky. CHI Saint Joseph Health’s affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center has allowed patients in the Commonwealth the opportunity to consult with leading sub-specialists at one of the top five cancer centers in the country. Evening of Hope directly benefits patients being treated for cancer across all CHI Saint Joseph Health facilities and will provide them with hope for their journey ahead.

“With 1 in 3 Kentuckians impacted by cancer, CHI Saint Joseph Health knows the importance of having access to exceptional care close to home. All of our facilities are tied together in our mission to help people prevent cancer with timely screenings and to give them the resources they need to assist in their journey when cancer can’t be stopped.”   ­— Leslie Smart, president of the CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations

CHI Saint Joseph Health CEO Anthony (Tony) Houston, FACHE, participated in Evening of Hope.

“After a year of uncertainty and social distancing, I am so pleased that we were able to safely come together, in small groups across the state, to support our cancer program and patients through Evening of Hope,” he said.

CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations Celebrate New Beginnings and New Event

“The funds raised through this special event allow us to offer continued improvement in technology and resources and provide excellent care for our oncology patients, along with our affiliation with the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center,” Houston said. “Evening of Hope was an innovative approach to fundraising in the era of the pandemic, through highlighting the real impact that unique and customized care can make in the lives of cancer patients. By expanding our footprint of expertise and humankindness even further, we are able to focus on delivering care closer to the homes of those we serve.”

Ami and Stephen Hillenmeyer hosted a party during Evening of Hope.

“My husband I and were so honored to host a party alongside so many other hosts to raise money for CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations to support cancer care across the health system,” Ami Hillenmeyer said. “Cancer has touched all of us in some way. To be able to assist others who need extra help is so important to us.”

Jennifer Nolan

Flaget Memorial Hospital President Jennifer Nolan welcomed members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for an Evening of Hope luncheon. Pictured event was held during summer of 2021.

Back to Normal

Another bright spot of 2021 was the return of our volunteers, including teen volunteers, to the five hospitals served by the Foundations. An estimated 325 volunteers returned to Saint Joseph Hospital, Saint Joseph London, Saint Joseph East, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, Saint Joseph Jessamine, Saint Joseph Berea and Flaget Memorial Hospital during National Volunteer Week in April.

“I have been called to serve. I am so excited and blessed to finally go back to volunteering at Saint Joseph London,” said Dianna Hampton, Saint Joseph London volunteer. “Part of my life is being restored.”

Even before their return in person, volunteers went above and beyond the call of duty, and staff and patients alike were so grateful to see their faces again.

“I have missed my friends and nurses but most of all I have missed listening to the visitors who come into the gift shop and offering a smile and a listening ear,” said Cheryl Fruth, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling volunteer.

In October, CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations plans to welcome back the regularly scheduled Yes, Mamm! events that were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19. The Yes, Mamm! 5K is scheduled for Oct. 16. Funds raised help to ensure that no woman needs to miss lifesaving screenings or treatments.

Learn more about the CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations at

Saint Joseph Mount Sterling Volunteers

More than a year after CHI Saint Joseph Health paused its volunteer program due to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers returned to the hospitals to begin providing in-person service, including at Saint Joseph Mount Sterling. Pictured event was held during summer of 2021.

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