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Community and Giving

Local Soroptimist Club Celebrates Former Member With Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital Garden

April 26, 2018

soroptimist check presentation

Members of Soroptimist International of Accomack County presented Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital (RSMH) with a donation of $15,000 to help create the Sue M. Chesser Memorial Garden. Chesser was a former club member who passed away in 2014.


The funds came from what used to be the Crepe Myrtle Committee. Since the early 1980s, the Soroptimists have planted the more than 4,500 crepe myrtles that line both sides of Route 13 on the Eastern Shore. Chesser was a tireless fundraiser and chairperson of the Crepe Myrtle Committee.


“We were looking for another project that would enhance the beauty of the Eastern Shore, which was the original goal of the committee,” said Margaret Miles, Accomack County Soroptimist member. “Sue was always supportive of the hospital, so it seemed like the peRiverside Foundationect project.”


The garden, located on the Riverside campus between the hospital and cancer center, will be “a place of beauty and serenity that everyone can enjoy,” added Miles. The centerpiece of the garden is a fountain which graced the front of the Nassawadox hospital for decades and was moved to the Onancock location, surrounded with beautiful landscaping that will, of course, include crepe myrtles.


“This beautiful new outdoor space will be a wondeRiverside Foundationul addition to our campus,” said John Peterman, RSMH Vice President and Administrator. “The comfort of patients and their families was a key component when designing the new campus. Having a garden in which people can relax and enjoy nature greatly enhances the campus design.”


Fresh air and sunshine has long been thought to be a cure for many ails. Research is now proving that out. A study published in 1984 was the first to show that gazing at a garden can sometimes speed healing from surgery, infections and other ailments. Later research has shown that spending just three to five minutes looking trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anxiety and pain, leading to relaxation and improved healing.


Patients and visitors will be able enjoy the garden when it is completed this spring. At that time a plaque will be installed during a formal dedication.