Care with Compassion
Care With Compassion Singers DirectorBonnie Graves leads the group in a resounding rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before a crowd of 150 Soldiers and civilians during the Madigan Healthcare System monthly Awards Ceremony July 22. The new choir will become a staple at many command and community events in the coming months.

Madigan Healthcare System has taken its slogan "Care With Compassion" to a whole new level by forming a professional choir aptly named the Care With Compassion Singers.

The singers debuted their talents July 22 during Madigan's monthly Awards Ceremony in Letterman Auditorium.

Pleasant surprise swept over the audience shortly after Madigan Commander Col. Jerry Penner III had them sit down, as the singers came strolling in belting an old English folk song, "Yo Ho, Nobody Home."

"It added some fun to the award ceremony," said Nathan Pincus, an office automation clerk at Madigan. "At first I wasn't sure what was going on; it was entertaining."

The goal for the Singers is to be a group that performs, not recites, said the group's director Bonnie Graves. This is why they decided to call themselves the Care With Compassion 'Singers' rather than 'Choir.'
"The word 'Singers' gives the feeling we're performing all kinds of music; not just a recital," Graves said.

The choral ensemble comprises staff from all over the Madigan Healthcare System, and is all-volunteer, spending their personal time up to twice a week to hone their skills and learn new songs. The commitment and diversity helps to make the group even better, Graves said. "I was excited the very first day," she added. "What I had heard about their backgrounds in performing, I saw we had some resources to start from. People are here because they want to be here, it fuels my creative thinking."

That creativity needs to live up to the high standard set in everything Madigan does, as well as in the commander's vision for the Singers.

"I wanted to create a legacy here for staff to have a little bit of fun and try to do some healing through song," Penner said to the audience at the awards ceremony. "Bonnie Graves has done a very good job as their director, and they want to represent you as well."

The next big undertaking for the Singers will be at Madigan's Organizational Day Aug. 13. Graves, who serves as a Red Cross volunteer as a trainer for Madigan's Applied Suicide Intervention Skills, is planning a musical skit-style performance.

"Our show at Organizational Day is about a group of rag tag singers with stereotypical parts," Graves added. "I can create any kind of show that's required because of the diversity of the singers we have. I am very enthused to present these people on the stage."

Typical in any military setting, the group is trying to establish guidelines for their performances, their ability to adapt with change in personnel, and to be a proud, sustainable part of the Madigan Healthcare System for years to come.

"I'm trying to build a baseline for this performing group," Graves said. "How do people join, how do we answer the needs of the community and the needs of the command, how often can we perform and with how much notice."

To do so, she has started with the basics. "We want to have in our hip pocket four patriotic songs," Graves added. "I will also do ongoing teaching (to the group) of different ethnic songs and folk songs from the people who built this country."

In addition to two years in the Peace Corps and two years in the AmeriCorps Service teaching the Arts to other cultures, Graves worked with the U.S. Air Force Academy Choir. From this experience, she knows what's expected from the group at military functions.

"There is a different feel for the different events," she explained. "Awards are a friendly type of congrats and retirements are a solemn respect. It might be slower or more dramatic at the end (of the song) for one versus the other."

No matter the event, the singers' number one goal is to represent Madigan and its staff.
"I want them to know we are spokespersons for the hospital community," Graves said. "We want to boost morale, and to make them feel that there is a sense of community and relationships here. We all have different jobs and purposes in the hospital but we want to express for all of them at these events."

For anyone who would like to request the Care With Compassion Singers for their official functions, please call the Madigan Healthcare System Strategic Communication Office at 253-968-3189.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16