Evelyn Ballentine - "About Helping Others"
Having lived and worked in Memphis, Tenn., most of her life, Evelyn Ballentine has known about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital since it opened in 1962.
"But it is one thing to hear about a place and another thing to see it first-hand," said the former school librarian, who retired in 1994. Evelyn gained a first-hand perspective on what St. Jude means to children and families more than a decade ago, when a cousin's son was treated at St. Jude for aplastic anemia at age 8.
"My cousin explained to me how St. Jude cared for children whether they were rich or poor; with or without insurance, and that really impressed me," Evelyn recalled. "And then I went to visit the boy in the hospital and I was amazed by how much his vocabulary had grown. He could explain all his symptoms and treatments because the doctors and staff explained everything to him so he could understand. They never talked down to him."
Evelyn's young cousin fully recovered and currently is attending Morehouse School of Medicine, where he is working on a master's degree in Public Health. "I believe his interest in learning came in part from his experiences at St. Jude," she said. "St. Jude does so much more for children than just treat the illness."
Evelyn began giving regularly to St. Jude shortly after her youngest son died in 2003. "That is when it really hit me that tomorrow is not promised. I decided that I should be about helping others, and so I decided to give to St. Jude." Two years later, she decided to leave a legacy to St. Jude by including the hospital in her will.
She said watching a program about St. Jude on television caused her to take that step because "it helped me realize that St. Jude can continue only if people give." She discussed her decision with her only surviving child, a son, who supported her decision. She also has one granddaughter and one great grandchild.
Since becoming a member of the Danny Thomas – St. Jude Society, Evelyn has attended the annual society luncheon three times and toured the hospital twice. "I am amazed by how much the hospital had grown," she said. "It is such a beautiful place. Nothing has been spared for these kids – including having a school facility for patients."
Evelyn's other interests include teaching sewing to adults, helping with the health ministry at her church, volunteering at her local library and belonging to two different senior citizen groups.
"I encourage my friends in these groups to consider giving to St. Jude," she said. "I want them to see for themselves what I mean when I say that 'St. Jude is all about the kids.' "
Learn more about Bequests