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Talented Teen's Donation Is "A Gift of More than Just a Bench"

Talented Teen's Donation Is "A Gift of More than Just a Bench"

Among the beautiful elements inside the carefully designed Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care is a gorgeous wooden bench that was handcrafted by St. Johnsbury (Vermont) Academy junior Alexander Laflamme. Laflamme made the cherry, walnut and ash bench in Matthew Stark’s advanced woodworking class and drove down to donate it to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) on October 25.

Dorothy Heinrichs, the senior associate director of leadership initiatives for Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, was there to accept Laflamme’s gift and watch someone help him position it at the end of a hallway. “I’m having difficulty expressing how meaningful it was to me that a young man would give away his labor of love so that others—either those who are at the end of life or those who care for them—could have a beautiful place to sit and share precious moments together,” said Heinrichs. “It was a gift of more than just a bench." 

She noted that Jack Byrne’s widow Dorothy had expressed a desire from the beginning for the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care “to be a part of the community and to be supported by the community,” Heinrichs said. “This gift is yet another example of how a member of our community found a way to make his own special contribution.”

The bench took Laflamme and a couple of classmates about five weeks to design and build, and Laflamme said he was inspired to donate it by his mother, Kelly Laflamme, a PA in DHMC’s cardiovascular medicine department. “Since my mother works down here, I thought it would be a great place to donate it,” he said. “Many people will get to see and enjoy it, and hopefully it will last for a long time.”


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