Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services Family Center ribbon cutting
Victoria Valencia (fourth from left), president/CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, joins others in cutting the ribbon for Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services new Family Center in Watsonville on Oct. 5. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

The doors of the new Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services Family Center were officially opened Thursday during a grand opening ceremony at 567 Auto Center Drive in Watsonville. 

Community members joined elected officials, and Chamber of Commerce representatives from Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara counties for the event. 

“We’re celebrating our new home and welcoming you into it,” said Heidi Boynton, executive director. “The beautiful Family Center is not possible without you. For 25 years many of you have come alongside to ensure Jacob’s Heart supports families as they face the unimaginable. Our founder, Lori Butterworth, constantly strove to create a welcoming space that didn’t look or feel like a hospital. The space inside is one where color and light reign supreme.”

The new facility’s interior open space design beams with bright colors, from linoleum floors and furniture, to playful lampshades, artwork and kid-friendly rooms, all flooded with natural light. 

“This organization came out of a story, an individual case that was community people and family standing together,” Senator John Laird said. “It wasn’t really a government agency; it was people seeing a need and volunteering and contributing to bring this to where it is today.”

Jacob’s Heart aims to improve the quality of life for children with cancer by supporting their families. For 25 years they have provided emotional, practical, financial and peer support to hundreds of local children and teens with cancer and thousands of their family members. The new location replaces their former spot on West Beach Street in Watsonville.

“Right now there are 370 families currently being served by Jacob’s Heart,” Boynton said. “Because of you, we are here. We have a saying here: ‘Once a Jacob’s Heart family, always a Jacob’s Heart family.’” 

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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