Local Program Spotlight

Photo of the Chapel at the Gardens at St. Elizabeth

Giving the Enduring Gift of Gratitude

Chicago, Ill. (December 10, 2021) – Across the communities of CommonSpirit Health’s ministry, philanthropy takes on many extraordinary and deeply personal forms. In Denver, Colorado, one area resident - Margaret L. - has been giving back to her community faithfully, week in and week out, for nearly 35 years.

In 1987, Margaret moved her mother to Denver from Spokane, Washington to be closer to family. Once in Denver, her mother settled into The Gardens at St. Elizabeth, an independent and assisted living facility which is part of CommonSpirit Health’s CHI Living Communities. Margaret describes her mother as being a woman of faith, devoted to the Blessed Mother, and says that during her time at The Gardens, she regularly attended services at the historic Christ the King Chapel which is located on-site.

Inspired by her mother and by the quality compassionate care she received, and following her own abiding devotion to God, Margaret almost immediately began donating flowers to adorn the chapel each week. When, after just six years, her mother’s health made it necessary for her to move from The Gardens to another facility for the final two years of her life, Margaret continued her weekly donations.

Aram Haroutunian, Director of Mission Integration and Chaplain at The Gardens of St. Elizabeth says Margeret’s donations brighten services at the chapel and touch the lives of the approximately 185 residents. Roughly two-thirds of residents are Catholic and attend daily mass and Sunday services while others attend weekly interdenominational services in the chapel. All are blessed to arrive and find a bright and welcoming sanctuary.

“Margaret sees to it that we have fresh flowers every week except during Lent and Advent, “ Aram says. “That makes it all the more amazing because she ‘goes all out’ for Easter and Christmas. It has become a treasured annual tradition for me that every Christmas Eve at 9:00 am I greet Margaret, her florist Richard Gavito and his daughters, and we decorate the chapel for the holidays.”

Margaret attends services regularly at The Gardens’ Christ the King Chapel, a designated landmark in Denver which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2022, but prefers to make her donations in relative anonymity. “Only our very longest residents and staff know of Margaret and her generosity,” says Aram, “Many have no idea who it is that gives so generously to keep our chapel bright and beautiful.”

Despite her understated kindness, in October of this year, Aram created an oversized card in which residents could express their gratitude for Margaret’s gracious generosity and presented it to her for her birthday. “I love how Aram and other campus members routinely go ‘above and beyond’ to spread kindness,” says Executive Director Jane Woloson. “These are the types of gestures that are the foundation of our strong sense of community.”