The Story of Hope (A Pig's Tale at Puget Sound Fisher House)
Rachael the Pig is a Seattle icon. Created by artist Georgia Gerber, Rachael sits just below the big clock at the world famous Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Being essentially a giant piggy bank, the coins tourists drop into her benefit the Pike Place Market Foundation which provides a variety of human services to members of the Market neighborhood. Taking their fundraising efforts to the next level, the Foundation also sponsors “Pigs on Parade." One hundred and fifty fiberglass pigs, modeled after Rachael, are decorated by local artists, put up around the city for viewing and then auctioned off to benefit the Foundation.
In 2008, Janice Pecoraro, a program assistant in Research and Development at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, purchased one of the pigs at auction. Unfortunately, the pig wouldn’t fit through her front door. She contacted Cecile Bagrow, former Fisher House Manager, and asked if she would like the pig for the house. Cecile loved the idea. Jerri Larsen, a nurse at VAPSHCS, donated her artistic talents to repaint the pig in colors suited to the happy, peaceful environment of Fisher House. The only direction Cecile gave her was, "I see her sitting in a garden." The refurbished pig was named Hope.
Hope now sits serene on the patio of the VA Puget Sound Fisher House, surrounded by the gardens that have sprung up around her. She has become a symbol of hope, a touchstone for families and a mascot for the house.
Hope has proved to be a fitting name. For 4-year-old Jessie, being in the Fisher House was an adventure. She had her Auntie to watch her, lots of new toys to play with and a staff that fussed over her. Jessie's bright, vivacious face made a sharp contrast to the heavy looks worn by Auntie and Mommy. Jessie was blithely unaware of how close she was to losing Daddy. Jessie’s mom was convinced that having his little girl so close was a big part of what helped her husband bounce back. We took a picture of Jessie kissing Hope and she gave it to Daddy. He was discharged the next day. It wasn’t the picture that did it, of course. But seeing Jessie every day and feeling her love most certainly helped Daddy recover; a real life example of the motto that “a family’s love is good medicine."