A few weeks ago I got to photograph a very special event.
First lady Melania Trump visited Children’s National Hospital to cut the grand opening ribbon for the official opening of a healing garden dedicated to the first ladies of the United States.
Kids receiving care at Children’s National now have a place to enjoy fresh air, the outdoors and inspiring views of the nation’s capital. It was a very special event and, as you can imagine, involved a ton of coordination, planning and security. But as always, the staff at Children’s did a rockstar job and pulled off an amazingly beautiful event. It was an honor to be a small part of it.
Named after late philanthropist and horticulturalist Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon, our Healing Garden is dedicated to the First Ladies of the United States in honor of their longstanding support to Children’s National and the Washington, D.C. community. This beautiful outdoor area (open year-round from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) gives families dealing with health challenges a peaceful space to connect with nature and renew their spirits.
Children with serious illnesses often have very limited access to nature and miss feeling the warmth of the sun. Our spacious 7,200-square-foot rooftop garden, which opened in April 2017, advances our commitment to providing the best possible care and experience to each patient. You can view photos of the garden here and a time-lapse video of its construction.
Located on the roof of the Children’s National main campus, outside the 3rd floor main hospital, patients and visitors can relax at our soothing water feature, walk through our labyrinth for meditation and calming or simply enjoy trees, flowers and a variety of plants and shrubs. When you exit the elevators on the third floor, head down the hall in the direction of the Fetal Medicine Clinic and you will see the entrance to the garden.
This one-of-a-kind garden was made possible due to a multimillion-dollar gift from the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, generous gifts from Heather and Andy Florance, the employees of CoStar Group and other donors.
Former first ladies Mrs. Michelle Obama, Mrs. Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mrs. Barbara Bush, the late Mrs. Nancy Reagan and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter are honorary chairs of the garden. In 2014, Mrs. Reagan agreed to serve and was an enthusiastic supporter because of her fond memories of her visits to Children’s National. In addition, Susan Ford Bales, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Lynda Johnson Robb and Caroline Kennedy agreed to serve on the Honorary Advisory Board for the Healing Garden.
The idea of creating a Healing Garden was inspired by a young patient whose last wish was to go outside. Unfortunately, the distance to a suitable outdoor area and the complex life support treatments the child’s condition required made it a complicated dream for her care team to fulfill. After hearing about the heroic efforts of the Children’s National doctors, nurses, engineers and others who were able to make that wish come true, Heather and Andy Florance volunteered to lead the campaign to raise the funds needed to design and construct the garden so more children could have access to the outdoors.
You can see more of my photos from the ribbon cutting here.