Officials gather in the Mee Memorial Rose Garden for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially relaunch the garden with a new fundraising component of dedication bricks on June 29. (Sean Roney/Staff)

KING CITY — Mee Memorial Hospital Foundation hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Tuesday with the chambers of commerce from King City and Soledad for the Mee Memorial Rose Garden.

The rose garden was planted more than 50 years ago by a local man wanting to honor his wife in long-term care. The Foundation will add memorial bricks to not only honor loved ones, but also to raise funds for its goals of helping the hospital obtain needed equipment.

Foundation Board member Ellen Willis Neville said the ribbon cutting was a way to revamp the garden and bring it back to life after it had been almost forgotten. The garden had been a place of calm for staff and patients, but she said many came through and had no idea what the roses were for, merely thinking they were solely decorations.

“The response since rededication has been astronomical,” Neville said. “We’ve had a lot of people … that have dedicated roses to their loved ones before who would love to have a brick.”

The new garden will feature a fountain, memorial bricks and memorial benches.

“A lot of people stop in there and have lunch and generally there’s no wind and it’s a nice place to relax,” Neville said.

The memorial bricks currently have no limit, and Neville explained they would be arranged in a starburst pattern outward from the fountain’s location. The first brick was dedicated June 29, for a woman who’s aunt was a nurse at Mee Memorial for 45 years.

Neville said the Foundation doesn’t have a capital campaign for a particular project, but the group is raising money in general after having most recently obtained new wheelchairs for the emergency room.

“When the hospital board of directors gives us a capital list of the needs and the wants, we try to serve the needs more than wants of what’s truly needed to help our patients and help our staff,” Neville said. “We’re doing one thing at a time now. We haven’t been able to do anything for 15 months.”

The ribbon cutting and new bricks are the first fundraiser for the Foundation in more than a year, Neville explained. She said now that things have reopened after pandemic closures, the group can work toward fundraising once again.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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