Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital CEO Steve Hannah announced the opening of a new non-denominational chapel at the Hollister hospital to be utilized by local patients and families.
Funding for the chapel was entirely donated by Hospital Board Chair, Jeri Hernandez, in honor of her late husband, Ismael, who lost his battle with cancer in 2017.
“Ismael loved San Benito County,” said Hernandez. “He always sought ways to give back to the community. I felt like this was such an appropriate way to honor his legacy and give something back to our local patients, families and hospital.”
The idea for a non-denominational chapel was born when Hannah approached Hernandez about repurposing the old hospital boardroom. “Hazel Hawkins has never had a chapel,” explained Hernandez. “And, thinking back to when Ismael was very sick and I needed a quiet place to reflect, it seemed like the right thing to do with the space.”
Hernandez oversaw the entire refurbishment process, working with engineers to redo the lighting and completely renovate the flooring, says a press release from HHMH.
“From top to bottom, Jeri made sure every detail of the chapel was accounted for,” explained Hannah. “Because of her generosity, thousands of people will have a quiet place to meditate while their loved ones are cared for.”
“I am so appreciative of Ms. Hernandez’s generosity and contribution,” commented Assemblymember Robert Rivas, who represents the 30th Assembly District. “I feel lucky to have called Ismael a friend. This chapel is a fitting honor to my friend and a great member of our community. I have no doubt that members of our community will benefit from this new addition to our local hospital.”
Hernandez added, “I am eternally grateful for the engineering team’s diligence and hard work on this project. I also am appreciative of Liz Sparling at the Hazel Hawkins Hospital Foundation and Frankie Gallagher in Public Relations for streamlining the process. I am sure Ismael is smiling down on the work we did.”