The Garden that Heals
Two BIDMC families partner to name Boston’s premier rooftop garden
Contemplation. Renewal. Joy. That's what takes place in Carol F. Anderson's garden. "Whether I am planting or harvesting or observing the resident bluebird couple, my garden is my sanctuary," says the Board of Trustees chair. "It is where I appreciate the wonders of nature and the cycle of life." When Carol and her husband, Howard, were deciding how best to support BIDMC's new inpatient building, they found themselves inextricably drawn to the rooftop healing garden. Set on naming the space — a place that signifies relaxation, rest, and friendship — they were inspired to approach their friends Midge and Tom DeSimone and ask them to partner in the endeavor. Together, the two couples have made a generous $6 million gift to support the new building. With this support, the beautiful outdoor oasis that will bear their names — one of the city's only hospital rooftop healing gardens — will forever link these four key BIDMC leaders.
In the words of Tom, Board of Trustees vice chair and co-chair of the Where Extraordinary Lives campaign, the course of events that allied the two couples was 'kismet.' "Coming together to do something for the hospital that we all love, something that was really going to be different, was almost like fate," says Tom, who grew up appreciating gardens because his late mother, like Carol, was an avid gardener. "The inpatient building is a vitally important part of the medical center's future, so this is where Midge and I wanted to focus. There's no other hospital in the city that will have a garden that is as significant and integrated."
Located on the roof that will connect the Rosenberg Building to the new inpatient facility, the garden will offer patients and families an opportunity to take in fresh air and focus on their physical and emotional health. "Scientific research has demonstrated the positive impact of the natural world on people's moods and well-being," says Midge. "A serene and inviting space where people can relax is invaluable in a stressful hospital setting, and that was appealing to us." Among the garden's many features will be a private space with direct access to the intensive care unit, providing solace for patients and family members who are facing challenging medical circumstances. "We were comforted to think that patients and caregivers would be able to find peace and refuge through this unique outdoor space," says Howard, who Carol calls an 'apple-picker extraordinaire'; he donates hundreds of bushels each year to local food pantries.
For the Andersons and the DeSimones, the opportunity to play a role in the creation of the new building is both an honor and a duty. "I truly think that people who have been successful should support endeavors outside of themselves," says Tom. "It's your personal responsibility to find a cause that you can be committed and loyal to. For us, BIDMC provides that with its long history of compassion and excellent patient care."
The Andersons and DeSimones are equally devoted to the betterment of their community. In Carol's view, the building is essential to continuing BIDMC's status as a world-class medical center. "This structure is inspired by the patients we serve and will provide an unparalleled environment for them," says Carol. "Integral to that goal is the healing garden."
This structure is inspired by the patients we serve and will provide an unparalleled environment for them. Integral to that goal is the healing garden.”
Carol F. Anderson