-  Adventist Health Foundation honors three community philanthropists

Adventist Health Foundation celebrated three community members who quietly go about making our world a little better at their 2012 Heroes of the Heart Gala and dinner, held Thursday, Oct. 25, at The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland.

The inaugural Heroes of the Heart award recognized three area philanthropists, whose tireless and creative efforts have made a significant impact on the lives of others. Recipients were selected from an array of volunteers, youths, public servants, business leaders, and foundation and corporation leaders, nominated by members of the community and chosen by a committee chaired by Adventist Health Foundation board member Lynn Snodgrass.

Those honored Thursday night were:


n Gresham resident and businesswoman Sue Piazza, who created the Fabulous Fifty Project last year to raise money for five Gresham-area charities, foundations and civic groups dedicated to helping children. With the help of family, friends and numerous creative fundraising events, Piazza blew her original goal of $50,000 out of the water by bringing in $78,000. The funds were spread between the Gresham-Barlow Education Foundation, My Father’s House, Good News Community Health Center, the Rotary Club of Gresham, the Gresham Salvation Army and Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center’s Breast Health and Imaging Center. Piazza is now mentoring a Vancouver, Wash., woman who hopes to accomplish a similar feat for her 70th birthday next year.


n Bess Wills, general manager for Gresham Ford, is a longtime advocate of helping local small businesses and area schools. Wills serves on several nonprofit, professional and community service organizational boards, including the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce’s Try Local First Committee. Earlier this year, the committee launched a charm bracelet program to encourage folks to shop locally and support small businesses. For the past five years, Wills and Gresham Ford have participated in Ford Motor Corporation’s Drive 4 UR School Program by hosting test drive events twice a year to raise money for local school programs and student organizations. In September, the dealership raised $6,780 during the one-day event for Centennial High School’s football team.


n Wendell White has a lifelong passion for senior citizens and their families. The Portland businessman is chairman a Generations LLC, and owner of several senior living communities in Portland. White also served as chair of Adventist Health’s Chaplain Campaign, which raised $6.2 million to fully endow the hospital chaplain program. Through White’s efforts, Adventist’s chaplain program is the first and only fully endowed program in a health care facility in the United States.

The Heroes of the Heart Gala is a benefit for Adventist Medical Center’s new Heart to Home Transitional Care Program, which provides support to patients following their discharge from the hospital.

For more information on the 2013 Heroes of the Heart Gala, contact the Adventist Health Foundation at 53-251-6197 or visit

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