Sophie’s Gifts of the Heart

Sophie Melnek (right) with co-worker

Some days are just more special than others.

A day last fall was exactly one of those for me, when I was asked to meet with the son-in-law of a former Henry Ford Hospital housekeeper who had recognized Henry Ford Hospital as the beneficiary of a gift from her estate.

As one of our former Board Chairs has said about philanthropy, “No gift is too large.” I am of the opinion that no gift is too small either.

The idea of receiving a gift to Henry Ford Hospital is naturally exciting, and the idea of receiving a gift from a former employee is always inspiring; it is one of the greatest tributes and act of gratefulness.

However after hearing the heart-warming story of Sophie Melnek and her devoted daughter Helen, it quickly becomes evident just how meaningful the donation is.

Sophie Melnek immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine as a young teenager and spent her early married years on a farm north of Detroit. At the outbreak of World War II, the family decided to give up farming and her husband was given the opportunity to support the war effort by working for Chrysler Corporation.

Sophie was delighted to move to the city and begin her career at Henry Ford Hospital in the housekeeping department.

As Sophie became acclimated to Henry Ford Hospital, it was clear this was more than “just a job” to Sophie.

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