Bear Family Foundation Gives Almost $2.8 Million to Area Organizations
Source: Pensacola News Journal | By: Madison Arnold
The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart got a major boost for its oncology unit Friday with a $1.75 million donation from the Bear Family Foundation.
The hospital’s donation was a part of the foundation’s Thanks a Million and More luncheon, where the Bear family gave out almost $2.8 million to 40 area organizations. Among the major donations was a $300,000 donation to the Pace Center for Girls and $500,000 to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida.
“We’re always looking for an opportunity to pay back the community,” said Lewis Bear Jr. “The bottom line is they’re significant contributors to the needs of the community.”
The foundation is made up of Bear, his wife Belle Yates Bear and their children and spouses. The foundation gave its first grants in 2003, and through the years has donated a total of $8.1 million to area organizations.
The $1.75 million is a significant portion of the $4.5 million needed to construct a dedicated pediatric oncology unit at the children’s hospital. The unit will have between nine and 12 beds on the first floor of the hospital. Work is scheduled to begin next year.
Will Condon, president of the children’s hospital, said the donation will not only help improve the facility within the building, but also will help expand services to children outside of it on things like education, research and partnering with other organizations like the Rally Foundation that work with children with cancer.
“It’s more than just caring for the patients who have cancer. It’s actually, how do we deal with the families and make sure their experiences are just as enjoyable as it would be at home,” Condon said. “It’s very trying times for these families. And because of the Bears’ gift, we’re really going to be able to elevate the level of care we’re able to provide.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters will use its gift for their new Bear Family Foundation Center for Hope, said CEO Paula Shell. The donation was part of a matching grant to help construct the center, which serves as safe meeting spaces for matches.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is still raising money for the $1.5 million project, which will run through December of 2020.