Hospital lockup to bail out agencies

By Josette Keelor

On Friday, administrators at Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal will voluntarily go to jail.

As part of a fundraising event for the United Way of Front Royal/Warren County, hospital administration has agreed to sit in makeshift jail cells in the hospital’s onsite Healing Garden.

That the event will happen on Halloween was a happy surprise, said United Way Executive Director Lee Smith Osina.

“I just think that they thought it was the right time and the right place, and Halloween was just too tempting,” she said.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, each participant will sit in a jail booth in the garden between the hospital’s north entrance and the emergency room for as long as it takes to raise their $150,000 bail.

“I think it’s actually going to be a hoot,” said Osina. “It’s a neat idea, neat concept, and Warren Memorial is always looking for new things to do for us.”

The largest area contributor of the local United Way, the hospital has held fundraisers like jeans days, book sales and special reading days.

“This, however, is probably the cleverest concept,” she said. “They’ve never tried anything of this nature before.”

She said they got the idea from the American Heart Association’s Cardiac Arrest campaign.

“Hopefully we can collect some reasonable money,” she added.

The $150,000, which grew from last year’s campaign to raise $135,000, will help support 11 area nonprofit agencies.

Participating agencies are Blue Ridge Housing Network, Blue Ridge Legal Services, Blue Ridge Opportunities, Community Housing Assistance Program, Concern Hotline, Inc., Front Royal Women’s Resource Center, Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital, Healthy Families of the Northern Shenandoah, House of Hope, Mental Health America – Warren County and St. Luke Community Clinic.

In addition, the Phoenix Project, a new initiative to provide domestic violence and sexual violence services to Warren County residents, will benefit from money raised in the Friday campaign.

“It will be a bit of a struggle this year to raise that extra $15,000,” Osina said, adding that the money is important for providing an “area safety net” of community care.

“[There is] always too much need and not nearly enough dollars,” she said.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com