This is a milestone year for the medical center: 2015 marks our 50th anniversary. And in honor of our golden anniversary, we're giving significant gifts to the community.
To celebrate our birthday, Sky Lakes will make investments in the community of nearly $1.5 million. These investments will be spread out over the next four years to help improve the health of people in the community and enhance many neighborhoods.
Here's why: Sky Lakes leadership believes our organization must be a social asset and a source of economic strength and as well as a leader in healthcare.
We see it as our civic obligation to our community to demonstrate excellence and responsible corporate citizenship in ways that will help make a positive difference, that will be enduring, that are inclusive, and that will encourage. To fulfill that obligation, Sky Lakes regularly reaches beyond its walls to make our community a healthier place.
Our gifts to the community come from the medical center's good and proper stewardship of resources, and will touch the lives of many people in ways that will be enduring with results that will be lasting.
The investments include our $600,000 contribution to the Blue Zones Project, and are in addition to our work with initiatives such as Klamath Promise, which aims to boost high school graduation locally, and our part to make possible the Klamath Works Human Services Campus.
Ella Redkey Pool
In order to encourage opportunities for physical activity that contribute to improved health, Sky Lakes this summer will fund a four-year commitment centered at the Ella Redkey Municipal Swimming Pool.
Due in part to the extraordinarily positive response to a similar contribution Sky Lakes made in 2013, the package will include swimming lessons for area third-graders for each of those four years. The funding will also help the city of Klamath Falls make improvements at the pool such as converting an area adjacent to the main pool once used as a wading pool into a "splash pad."
We believe that providing opportunities at the pool for younger children will make the facility more attractive to even more families, and will contribute to a lifelong habit of physical activity.
Opportunities for physical exercise aren't limited to activities in the immediate area. I am pleased to announce that Sky Lakes is making a donation to Klamath Trails Alliance in support of the plans to develop a trail all the way around Klamath Lake – the Klamath Lake Circle – which I think will be a great opportunity for people to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors that we've got here.
This donation will help enhance the natural attributes of the region for improved health of those who will use it as well as more economic development opportunities to help our area prosper.
Kit Carson Park
For another project, also in cooperation with the city, Sky Lakes will provide a significant investment to beautify and enhance Kit Carson Park.
There are several reasons for this gift: We want to see it again as the neighborhood asset it once was by installing walking paths to encourage people to get out and be active, and there will be a bark park so that people and their dogs can have a nice area to play and socialize.
The investments also include putting in natural landscaping and play structures that are more natural than traditional apparatus to provide safe opportunities for kids to be active.
A new feature for the park will be a bicycle "pump track." A pump track is a continuous loop of dirt berms and smooth dirt mounds that you ride without pedaling. Instead, riders use a pumping motion to of their upper and lower body to move forward and maintain speed and momentum.
We believe these enhancements will make the area inviting to a wide range of ages and that will encourage more use and more physical activity. As part of the project, the city will connect the park's sprinkler system to well water so properly maintaining the grass will no longer depend on irrigation water, which is often affected by circumstances beyond the control of the Parks Department.
This will help ensure the park, which is along Crater Lake Parkway – the main route into the city from the north and seen by tourists as they drive in – is visually appealing and attractive even during dry periods.
We expect this work will be done and ready for public use by June 2016.
It's a fact that green space – parks regardless of their purpose – leverage many positive things for a community, so part of the Sky Lakes investment includes the development of a park in the downtown corridor.
We believe those investments will continue the revitalization of the downtown, help existing businesses and aid in recruiting new commerce. Having an abundance of green space improves the impression a community leaves on visitors and sends the clear message that we value the benefits it brings naturally.
Sky Lakes Board Chairman John Bell put it this way: "When you put in a park downtown, you're saying green space is important, that we're willing to invest, and we're willing to make a place where people can go during their lunch or outside of work.
"It sends an important message saying 'This is what is important to our community, and it's a vibrant community.'"
Sky Lakes Medical Center's core values include good health, our community, dedication to excellence and, something that's also reflected in our community – teamwork. Teamwork is essential to our success – the need is too great to be met by any one organization or company or agency – and Sky Lakes will continue to work with other community leaders to improve the well-being of the people we are honored to serve.
I believe the Sky Lakes anniversary gifts to our community are an investment in our collective future. These contributions will help all of us – when we work together as a community – to do more and to make things even better.
Thank you for all you do.
President and CEO
Sky Lakes Medical Center