Beauty In Grace: Annual Lunch Celebrates Women Supporting Women at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center

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The group will present a $68,000 gift to purchase video streaming equipment for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Most expectant moms prepare for baby’s arrival by decorating a nursery, being showered with gifts from friends, and reading parenting books. Sarah Baer of San Clemente didn’t have time for any of that, because her son, Oliver came into the world long before he was supposed to, at a mere 26 weeks. He weighed 1 lb., 12 oz.

So began a heart-wrenching story that Baer relayed to 60 transfixed women at the annual member luncheon for Beauty In Grace, a women’s giving circle that supports women’s health programs at Saddleback Medical Center. Baer fought through tears when speaking about the physicians and nurses who cared for her and her son in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saddleback Medical Center.

“I had just moved to Orange County from Nashville and I had no family here,” Baer said, often fighting back tears. “Saddleback became my family.”

Baer’s roller coaster of emotions was felt by everyone in the room, as she took the women through her pregnancy, premature delivery, and the long journey to get Oliver healthy enough to come home. She detailed the struggle to get him to breathe on his own, drink from a bottle, and reach tiny milestones until he could finally leave the hospital 76 days later, at 5 lbs., 4 oz.

Baer’s story was especially relevant for the giving circle, which this year will be pooling their $1,000 membership gifts to purchase NicView streaming video systems for the NICU at Saddleback Medical Center. The equipment allows parents to have a constant live view of their baby through a smartphone app, even when they are not in the hospital.

As Baer related the seemingly endless days in the NICU, only going home for a quick shower or nap, she commented how this equipment would have been so helpful.

“You just don’t want to leave your baby at any time,” Baer said. “The gift you are giving to the families to be able to see their baby is just absolutely amazing. You can’t imagine how much I would have appreciated that.”

Each year, the Beauty In Grace giving circle pools its membership gifts to be able to make a significant donation to a women’s health program at Saddleback Medical Center.

“Each and every membership contribution to this giving circle will make a real difference to our NICU families,” said Cecilia Belew, president of Saddleback Memorial Foundation. “We are so inspired by the generous spirit of this group of women.”

In 2017, the gifts helped purchase breast MRI equipment for the MemorialCare Breast Center at Saddleback. This MRI equipment is in clinical use today, thanks to the Beauty In Grace gift.

Understanding women’s busy lives, the members gather only once per year at this luncheon, which this year was held January 25, 2018, at Shady Canyon Golf Club. At the event, the women enjoy an afternoon of inspiration, networking and socializing while learning how their gifts are making a difference in women’s lives.

“Standing together as women seems more important than ever,” said Marcia Manker, CEO of Saddleback Medical Center. “To show the world and set an example for our daughters that women can lead the way to change, impact our culture, and spread kindness and good.”

The lovely afternoon concluded with a call to action from Beauty In Grace Chair Cathy Han, M.D.

“We would love to be able to expand our reach and grow this circle,” Han said. “We really can do more as women together.”

Members for 2018 are listed below:


To learn more about joining Beauty In Grace, contact Saddleback Memorial Foundation at (949) 452-3724 or smf@memorialcare.org, or visit memorialcare.org/BeautyInGrace.