CHOC’s VP of Human Resources Joins Cast of Footloose Follies

One of Orange County’s most popular fundraisers , CHOC Follies, is back March 29-31 with their newest musical production, “Footloose Follies,” benefitting CHOC Children’s. Set against an 80s backdrop, the humorous toe-tapping show, featuring a cast of local social and business leaders, is sure to be fun for the whole family.

We talked to Tom Capizzi, CHOC’s vice president of human resources, about his role in the upcoming show.

Tom Capizzi, CHOC Children’s vice president, human resources

Q: How long have you been at CHOC?

A: I have been with CHOC two and a half fantastic years.

Q: How did you get involved with the show? Why is this important to you?

A: I have been a fan of the Follies for many years. I always felt it would be great to be a part of the production and give back as a senior leader at CHOC. In my role, I am always in front of many associates and love the opportunity to speak to as many people as I can. This year I decided, “Why not; let’s do it!”

Q: Did you have any experience with theater prior to the CHOC Follies?

A: I did some theater while in college, and later when my daughter was in a children’s regional theater group I was asked to participate in several adult parts.

Q: What is your favorite part of the show?

A: The cast brings such energy and passion to the show, which in my opinion is very infectious and speaks to our mission and why we all are aligned – associates, physicians, donors and volunteers – with our mission to nurture, advance and protect the health and well being of children.

Q: Why should the community support the show?

A: Join us, it’s a wonderful time, very entertaining. And the dedication, passion and time commitment that the cast makes every year, which is all voluntary, speaks volumes to how important CHOC is to them and how critical philanthropy is to the success of our mission to care for our community’s children and their families.

“Footloose Follies” will be held March 29-30, 8 p.m.; March 31,  2 p.m. and 8 p.m., at the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College, in Costa Mesa. Visit choc.org for tickets.

Join Us For CHOC Charity Golf Classic on May 15

An annual golf tournament, “CHOC Charity Classic” benefiting CHOC Children’s is set for Monday, May 15, at the Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach.

Presented by Cigna, the popular event attracts leading business leaders and golf enthusiasts in support of our community’s children and the future of their health and well being.

Participants will enjoy 18 championship holes on Pelican Hill’s north and south courses, continental breakfast, box lunch, raffle, and a barbecue reception.

Click here for the entry form, sponsorship opportunities and more.

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation Donates $5 Million to CHOC 

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation, whose mission is to provide funding and support to charitable organizations that enrich the lives of children and families, has donated $5 million to endow the child life department at CHOC Children’s Hospital.  In recognition of the foundation’s generosity and to honor the memory of Cherese, the department will be named The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department.

Cherese is remembered by many for her compassion, sincerity and zest for life.  An elementary school assignment revealed her dream for peace.  As she matured, she continued to nurture that vision by focusing her attention on causes that improved the lives of others, especially children.  A bus accident in India tragically ended Cherese’s life when she was 21 years old, but her family and friends make sure her dream lives on through the work of the foundation they created in her name.

CHOC Children’s President and CEO Kimberly Chavalas Cripe, left, with Larry and Chris Laulhere.

“Our donation is truly a gift from Cherese, who was committed to making a difference in people’s lives.  Supporting CHOC’s child life department and the inspiring ways its specialists and programs positively impact patients and families each and every day is a wonderful tribute to our daughter and her dream to make the world a better place for children,” says Cherese’s parents, Chris and Larry Laulhere.

The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital offers comprehensive education and support services to help normalize the hospital experience for patients and their families.  From pre-surgery preparation and therapeutic medical play to developmental stimulation and specialized programs, such as art and music therapy, the department addresses the unique needs of children who are facing the most challenging moments in their young lives.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation for their generous support of our child life department, which is committed to transforming the hospital experience for our patients and their families.  Our child life specialists and programs, such as art and music therapy, play crucial roles in our patients’ healing and recovery, helping them focus on what’s most important: their childhood,” explains CHOC President and CEO Kimberly Chavalas Cripe. “Hearing of Cherese’s kind and giving spirit, particularly where children were concerned, we are especially touched by this gift and proud to honor her memory by naming the department the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department.”

For more information about Cherese and for photos, visit www.cherese.org.

CHOC Employee Gives Back Through CHOC Walk

For Devin Hugie, director of facilities, a tiny patient close to his heart makes it extra special to participate in the CHOC Walk in the Park.

Devin’s participation in the CHOC Walk began more than a decade ago – long before he was an employee. His wife was looking for a community event in which their family could get involved. Their daughter Ashlie, in junior high at the time, would voluntarily go door to door to raise funds, he recalls. The family was well aware of everything the hospital did for children in the community and they continued to support the CHOC Walk throughout the years.

Devin Hugie

In 2012, when an opportunity opened up to work for CHOC, Devin jumped at the chance to become part of the CHOC family. As an employee, he became even more involved with the CHOC Walk and formed “Team Hope.” The 50-member team, including Devin’s family, as well as friends and partners of the facilities department, has raised $9,340 this year. They hope to reach their goal of raising $10,000. Devin has personally raised $4,250, making him one of the top fundraising walkers.

Proceeds from the CHOC Walk help to fund education, research, and advance the health and well-being of children. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend this year.

“I’m blessed to be at CHOC. It really is about the kids and I can’t think of a more awesome cause,” Devin says.

In March 2014, this important cause hit even closer to home. Devin’s grandson, Noah, was unexpectedly admitted to CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for an infection in his lung. It was a scary time for Devin’s daughter, Ashlie — Noah’s mom — and the rest of the family. Today, Noah is a happy and healthy toddler, and the family is even more inspired to give back through the CHOC Walk.

“I’ve always known the great work that we do, but when a loved one becomes a patient it becomes more real. The care that my grandson received made it even more amazing to be a part of CHOC. I am so grateful,” Devin says.

The dedicated, fun-loving grandfather hopes his story will inspire others to get involved and give back.

“The morning of the Walk is filled with excitement,” he says. “You see all the various teams and the pictures of the many kids whose lives CHOC has touched; you feel grateful to be part of the bigger picture.”

The CHOC Walk in the Park presented by Disneyland Resort will be held October 30, 2016. Register and learn more. 

CHOC Children’s Breaks Ground for Pediatric Mental Health

As part of the transformative mental health initiative that CHOC and other Orange County leaders launched in May 2015, CHOC celebrated the start of construction on the first inpatient mental health center in Orange County.

To commemorate the important milestone, more than 150 leaders from CHOC and the community, including elected officials and members of the mental health task force, gathered for a ceremony at CHOC in support of the initiative, which will ensure children and adolescents with mental illness get the health care services and support they need. Speakers included Kimberly Cripe, CHOC ’s president and chief executive officer, Dr. Heather Huszti, CHOC’s chief psychologist, and Rick and Kay Warren, co-founders of Saddleback Church. The event included a brief tour of the inpatient mental health center currently under construction, highlighted by Kim Cripe breaking down a mock brick wall, as a symbolic display of breaking down barriers associated with mental health.

Rendering of CHOC Children's Inpatient Mental Health Center, scheduled to open in early 2018.
Rendering of CHOC Children’s Inpatient Mental Health Center,.

Scheduled to open in early 2018, the center – located on the third floor of CHOC’s Research Building on the main campus in Orange – will provide a safe, nurturing place for children ages 3 to 18, and specialty programming for children younger than 12. The center’s innovative floor plan was designed with guidance from national experts and incorporates elements of several exemplary programs. It will feature 18 private patient rooms in a secure and healing environment including an outdoor playground area to promote exercise and movement. Additional amenities include a multipurpose room, classroom, and a variety of rooms that support activities for children of different ages and needs.

Since the announcement of CHOC’s initiative last year, CHOC has made tremendous progress including the launch of an outpatient co-occurring clinic, in conjunction with Orange County Behavioral Health Services, for patients whose physical conditions are complicated by mental health challenges; the launch of mental health screenings for all 12-year-olds at their well child visits in the primary care setting; and through a grant, CHOC’s cystic fibrosis (CF) program expanded its social worker’s availability and has a designated psychologist to help patients and caregivers. CHOC is also completing a pilot in the primary care clinics where a psychologist is present to help the medical team screen for and address mental health issues, and help families address childhood obesity.

Staff training and recruitment is currently underway.

To learn more about CHOC and how it’s changing the way pediatric mental health is treated in Orange County, please visit www.choc.org/kidsmentalhealth.