Speaker after speaker recalled the generosity and compassion of philanthropist and longtime Fairfield resident Norma Pfriem during the May 2 dedication ceremony for the healing garden named in her honor at Yale New Haven Health’s Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull.
“Norma’s extraordinary generosity and vision paved the way for this remarkable facility,” said Bridgeport Hospital Foundation President Steve Jakab. “The seeds planted by Norma 20 years ago have literally blossomed into this center and garden to provide healing for the body, mind and spirit.”
Following the cancer death of her brother, Bridgeport Post (now Connecticut Post) publisher John Pfriem, Norma provided naming gifts to Bridgeport Hospital that helped establish the Norma Pfriem Cancer Center at Bridgeport Hospital in 1996 and Norma Pfriem Breast Center in 1998. When she died in 2005, she left her entire estate to her foundation, with instructions to continue supporting cancer patients.
The Norma Pfriem Foundation has provided annual gifts to the hospital for 10 years, the most recent to name the healing garden at Park Avenue Medical Center. Bridgeport Hospital and other Yale New Haven Health entities provide services at the site, which held a ribbon cutting May 3.
“Sometimes we’re lucky to meet that one special person,” said Norma Pfriem Breast Center Executive Director Donna Twist. “For me, it was Norma. Herself a breast cancer survivor, she inspired our mission to provide patients and their families with peace, hope, serenity and world class care under one roof.”
“The healing garden is the emotional heart and soul of Park Avenue Medical Center,” said Susan Neilson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Fairfield County-based Patriot Bank, N.A., corporate sponsor of the dedication ceremony. “It is serene and magical, and will provide peace for so many.”
One of the most special moments of the ceremony was saved for last. As Rabbi Jeffery Silberman, Bridgeport Hospital’s director of Spiritual Care, was delivering the closing prayer, sunlight burst through the clouds and onto the garden.