Harriet and Harold Friedman

Harriet and Harold Friedman: Paying Humankindness forward

Since first experiencing St. John’s signature touch of Humankindness more than 30 years ago, Harriet Friedman and her late husband Harold have been paying it forward. The couple moved to Oxnard in the late 1980s from the Los Angeles area where they had worked as educators. When Harold was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the Friedmans found specialist care at St. John’s Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) and Harold became one of the last surgical patients at the old hospital building on F Street in 1991.

“The care for him was phenomenal,” Harriet recalled. “But the support the nurses and volunteers offered to me during the eight-hour operation was just as good. They made sure that I was ok and knew what was going on.” After Harold’s release from the hospital, the Friedmans decided to pay Humankindness forward through volunteering, giving, and advocacy for St. John’s.

Harriet’s interest in the nursing profession since her youth inspired her to volunteer at St. John’s Regional Medical Center for more than 20 years. Her duties included supporting patients before and after treatment at the Short-Stay Unit, providing bilingual visitor assistance at the information desk in the hospital lobby, and providing customer assistance in the hospital gift shop. She also served as president of the SJRMC Auxiliary in 1997-1998.

Family and religion have greatly influenced the Friedmans’ approach to philanthropy. Harriet’s parents frequently gave to charity when she was growing up. According to their Jewish beliefs, a gift given anonymously is considered the highest deed, because it allows the person receiving the gift to feel good about themselves without having to thank anybody for it. As a result, Harriet and her beloved husband Harold, who passed away in 2020, have generously supported St. John’s for more than 25 years as members of the Humanitarian Gift Society, by supporting capital campaigns, and by making donations in support of a variety of hospital programs and services. “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to help St. John’s in any way I can,” Harriet said.

As a four-time cancer survivor, St. John’s Cancer Center is the hospital program that’s dearest to Harriet. The Cancer Center’s oncology navigation, support groups, and nutrition counseling services offered Harriet the care, information, and emotional support she needed during and after her cancer treatments. Harriet knows that St. John’s doctors, nurses, and staff will always provide her the highest quality care. “When my doctors tell me that I need to be admitted to the hospital again, I’m not afraid to go in because I know I’m going to be taken care of. I feel safe. That’s the most important thing.”

The Friedmans’ shared passion and commitment to St. John’s inspired them to join the St. John’s Frontier Society by making a planned gift to St. John’s Healthcare Foundation. “St. John’s has been a very special place for us because major events in our lives have happened there and I’m eternally grateful for that. So we wanted to make sure we left something for St. John’s in our will,” Harriet said.

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