Charity Begins at Home

A few months back, a Travel Club member got in touch and suggested a daytrip that would tour Sacramento’s Shriners Hospital for Children. Normally our staff spends its time trying to find places outside of Sacramento in which to travel. But Joe Hassna, the Travel Club member who contacted me, painted a wonderful picture of the important work the hospital and its staff performs on behalf of children who need the unique healthcare they provide. The hospital volunteers also provide private tours for groups on demand.

I contacted the hospital and made arrangements. Lunch would be important too so it made perfect sense to visit the Casa Garden Restaurant, owned and operated by the Sacramento Children’s Home. It was a perfect compliment to our daytrip. Soon we had a name for the tour: You Have a Date for Lunch for the Children. The tour quickly sold out and I volunteered to serve as Tour Director.

We were greeted with open arms by the staff at the hospital which gathered us into a small auditorium off the main lobby to show us a brief five minute film about the mission of Shriners Hospitals and specifically the hospital in Sacramento. Officially known as Shriners Hospital for Children of Northern California, the facility moved across the street from the UC Davis Medical Center about 15 years ago from San Francisco. Our Shriners Hospital is the only one in the system of twenty-two hospitals that serves all four medical missions of Shriners: burns, orthopedics, cleft lip & palates, and spinal cord injuries. Additionally, it serves as a research hospital and manufactures its own prosthetics on site, saving both time and money. Rooms for families of children staying at the hospital are also provided free of charge on site.

What’s amazing about the hospital is that it serves children of all needs, regardless of income or insurance. In other words, a middle-class family with health insurance would still get care free of charge at Shriners. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the hospital is never full; Mostly because people are simply “wired” to bring their children to regular hospitals to have their families taken care of in those facilities. As a result, the 80 beds at Shriners Hospital Northern California are typically only half full at any time. That said, the hospital does serve around 75 to 100 children on an outpatient basis every day, mostly providing follow-up care to children who have experienced multiple day stays in the hospital.

Started in 1867 as a home for orphans, The Sacramento Childrens Home has greatly expanded its mission to include crisis nurseries, a counseling center, residential and age-transitioning programs, and educational programs concentrating in after-school and youth literacy. One of the fundraising activities that supports the organization is its own on-site restaurant, The Casa Garden Restaurant. Open since 1973 as a restaurant and meeting center, it is staffed mostly by volunteers who don’t accept wages and donate their tips back to the organization. In fact, the volunteer servers at the restaurant have donated over $3 million in tips since the facility opened its doors.

Sports Leisure will be donating all the proceeds of our daytrip to both Shriners Northern California and Sacramento Chidlrens Home. As April 15 approaches, I hope you will take time to consider making tax-deductible donations to both these worthy charities. The websites are and And even more importantly, please help to spread the word about their important missions.