Giving From the Heart
"I absolutely adore children," Mary Alice Quinn says. "All shapes, sizes and colors. To me, they are gifts from God."
Quinn, a newspaper journalist for nearly four decades, never had children of her own. However, her compassion, love and concern for all children led her to name Le Bonheur as a benefi ciary in her will.
"Children just melt me," she says. "They really do. So many families can't afford health care. If giving a little bit of what I can will help a child get the proper medical attention, it makes me feel fulfi lled. When you've been fortunate enough to have been the benefi ciary of God's loving ways I truly believe it is part of the DNA of those of us who can to reciprocate."
A professional member of the Le Bonheur Club since 1972, Quinn remembers pushing the coffee cart and the library cart at the hospital during her volunteer shifts. "Le Bonheur was a much smaller hospital then and as volunteers we tried to do anything we could to help the families," she says. "We would even stay with a child in their room so the parents could take a break."
Even today, when she hears news of the child who is injured and taken to Le Bonheur for treatment, she worries and wonders if the child survives. "There's nothing more tragic to me than a child who is injured," she says.
Quinn found her calling early in life. While still attending college at Vanderbilt she wrote about young collegians on campus from Memphis for The Commercial Appeal. This assignment became a summer internship and then a full-time position was offered.
"I always thought I would teach," she says. "When they asked me to stay on permanently, I agreed to stick it out for a year." She retired from the paper after 39 years and 4 months.
To be a journalist she says "you have to love people" and that's the reason she followed her heart into a career that soon became a passion. "I love the written word, the research and all aspects of the job," she says, noting that she was fortunate to have worked with some of the most successful and well-known editors in the South including Frank Ahlgren, Gordon Hanna, Michael Grehl, Lionel Linder and Angus McEachran. Each one of them made an indelible impression on her in their own way, especially Ahlgren. "He told me early on that a person's name is really the one thing he has that is truly theirs," she recalls. "That being said, he then told me: ‘Those names better be spelled correctly!' "
Quinn believes Memphis is fortunate to have a pediatric hospital such as Le Bonheur. "Every city needs a great children's hospital," she says, "and so much of what Le Bonheur does reaches out so far. If God has blessed us with a few extra nickels, we should give it back where it helps. If we've been given good lives, good livelihoods and good friends, we have a personal responsibility to care for those who come behind us. For me, that is as much a part of living as learning how to swim or fl y a kite. Once you reach a certain age, you can't fl y a kite anymore and you look horrible in a swimming suit. And I sure don't need another pair of shoes!"