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Crisis Nursery Founder Receives Providence Award

October 08, 2014
Bill Bialkowsky, founder of the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane, WA (pictured with Elaine Couture, Providence chief executive for Eastern Washington), is the recipient of the 2014 Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award.

Spokane, Wash.—On October 7, Providence Health Care held its 22nd annual Sister Peter Claver Humanitarian Award ceremony. The 2014 award recipient is Bill Bialkowsky, founder of the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.

Sister Peter Claver led Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for 24 years and was beloved throughout the Spokane community for her visionary leadership and unparalleled commitment to the poor. Outside Sacred Heart, she helped set up the House of Charity Medical Outreach Clinic and initiated the planning for a network of charitable medical clinics.

Presenting the 2014 award recipient, Elaine Couture, chief executive of Providence Health Care, said, “Bill is the reason thousands of children have been spared from abuse.”

Moved by the tragic death of a two-year-old in Spokane, Bialkowsky developed a vision to provide a home-like environment for children most at risk for abuse and neglect. He created the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, solely on private donations from the Spokane community, and developed a staff that would treat struggling parents with respect and compassion as they handed over their children for care.

Now in operation for 32 years, the Nursery has helped 77,000 children and thousands of parents and families.

“Some of those children,” shared Couture, “are now adults who have returned to the Nursery to repay the love they found, love which helped them to break the cycles of abuse and poverty in their lives.”

Bialkowsky said he accepted the award on behalf of the Nursery’s amazing staff and committed volunteers who have made the program successful.

Other nominees for the award were:

  • Leroy Byrd, M.D
  • Jeff Clode, M.D.
  • Michael Cunningham, M.D.
  • Alice Dupler, RN, JD
  • Barbara Heimbigner, RN
  • Wendi Lawrence
  • Rob McCann, Ph.D
  • Jeff O’Connor; M.D.
  • Mark Paxton, D.D.S.

For more details about the Sister Peter Claver Award, email the Providence Marketing & Communications department.

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