The 31st annual Festival of Trees is a holiday celebration of community
Lights twinkle, tinsel sparkles, trees glow and the people smile. Kootenai Health Foundation’s Festival of Trees is an annual holiday celebration that brings the community together to commence the yuletide season while showing our community-owned hospital some love.
“It’s special to me because I had my kids here at the hospital; I bring my family to the emergency department when they need help,” said Kootenai Health Foundation development manager Melanie Lambrecht. “To give back to the hospital that takes care of my family is what’s most meaningful to me.”
Kootenai Health public affairs strategist Caiti Bobbitt knows on a personal level how meaningful it is to support her local hospital because she and her family were on the receiving end of care during her mother-in-law Cherie’s battle with leukemia. Cherie was treated at Kootenai Health and transferred to cancer centers in Seattle and Houston.
“They all provided great care, but no one beats the personalities at Kootenai Health,” Caiti said. “Our team was so generous and loving and warm, and to this day I’m stopped by her regular nurses who want to say hi. That means a lot.”
Cherie was diagnosed just before her son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law were married in Hawaii. Caiti’s new in-laws couldn’t make the trip because of the immediate need for medical care, but staff and nurses at Kootenai Health arranged for a hospital ceremony so Cherie wouldn’t miss out on such an important moment in her son’s life.
“Kootenai Health—between the nurses and guest services—did a little chapel ceremony here, and we read an abbreviated version of our vows for her,” Caiti said. “It was a lot of work, but the nurses knew how important it was.”
When Cherie, who previously worked as a nurse, passed in July, her memorial funds were donated to the Kootenai Health Foundation as a tribute.
“It honored her service and the service of other nurses,” Caiti said. Kootenai Health is one of only 32 community-owned, not-for-profit hospitals of its size left in the country, which means it has the ability to create those meaningful interactions with patients and their loved ones. Staff and leadership live in the community where they work, so they’re invested in northern Idaho as much as the patients they help.
A vital role To keep Kootenai Health operating at a pace that keeps up with Kootenai County’s growing population and demand, the Kootenai Health Foundation steps up and raises critical funds that help expand or grow services, cover costs of patient programs, and fill in where needed. The Foundation has been supporting the hospital and its patients since it was established in 1983.
The four-day Festival of Trees is the Foundation’s signature fundraiser of the year. It’s an opportunity for the public to contribute to their community hospital while celebrating the season and making long-lasting memories. All are invited to see the gorgeously decorated trees during Friday d’Lights and can bid on the trees at the Festival Gala. Bring the kids to Family Day and enjoy some social time and entertainment during the Holiday Luncheon.
Since 1989, the Festival has brought in nearly $6.8 million for emergency services, new cancer centers, women’s and children’s services, cardiac care, expanding the hospital facilities, and so much more.
Connie Moering, the office administrator for Coeur d’Alene Pediatrics, has been involved with Festival of Trees for about seven years. Coeur d’Alene Pediatrics has volunteered with the Festival since its inception.
“I love supporting the hospital and the community in this way—it is a very festive, fun event!” Connie said. “I have enlisted the help of my daughter and grandchildren too. I have enjoyed encouraging them to look outside of themselves and to volunteer for a special cause. I look forward to many more years of volunteering in this great community event.”
Come see the joy, merriment, and wonder of the Kootenai Health Foundation’s Festival of Trees at The Coeur d’Alene Resort from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.