It was more than a decade ago when Joshua Rutkoff convinced his mother, Tinette, a retired social worker, to move from New York City to Santa Cruz after Joshua’s father, Murray, passed away in 2006.
“She was hesitant at first and wondered how she’d meet new friends, but once she got here, she immersed herself in the community and had a wonderful time,” says Joshua.
Tinnette spent the rest of her happy years living in the Dominican Oaks retirement community, and even served as both vice-president and president of the resident’s council. According to Joshua, Tinnette had memorized the names of the more than 200 other residents of the retirement community, and remained sharp and tenacious up until the final days of her 92 years.
Joshua credits his mother’s high quality of life and longevity to her proximity to Dominican Hospital. It was there, during a trip to the emergency room where Tinette, who worked to help parents in receiving educational programs for their children with cerebral palsy her entire career, mentioned to her son that there should be something more to comfort the children in the ER waiting area.
This inspired Joshua and the Rutkoff Family to donate to the Dominican Hospital Foundation in the spirit of his mother and her life-long devotion to children. The funds will be used to purchase 200 hand-sewn “Little Hero Bears” from Vermont Teddy Bear Company for the ER and pediatrics. For every bear bought, Vermont Teddy Bears donates an additional bear to a first responder unit to give to a child in crisis.
“I am so proud to make my mom’s wish a reality, and with these bears it was really a win-win,” says Joshua.