Kaiser's Pavilion

by Bensiamin

Chapter 8

It was a school and workday, and there was no sleeping in. Jackson had gotten up first and taken Kaiser and Chloe out for a pee walk, and by the time they returned David was already brewing coffee and organizing breakfast. Jackson fed the dogs and as he poured their coffee, they heard the boy's bathroom door close.

"Pour two more cups."

David and Jackson were sitting next to each other, sipping their coffee together, when Jerrod and Roger walked into the kitchen hand in hand.

The boys smiled at them, and they received a smile in return. Jackson waved his hand to indicate the two coffee cups on the table across from him, and his smile broadened into a grin. Then he said, "God almighty, it's so great to see the Bliss Twins again."

Jerrod flashed an embarrassed smile, remembering the intensity of the sex the night before, and then said, "Jackson, cut us some slack."

Jackson just kept on grinning. "I'm just saying that it appears to have been a therapeutically successful night… for both of you. Which is a wonderful thing." He turned to his partner. "Don't you think so, David?"

"I agree completely, and with that I'll get some breakfast on the table."

As he stood up Jerrod said, "It was wonderful therapy. The kind that can only happen when you're totally in love with your soul mate." He reached for his coffee with one hand and squeezed Roger's hand with the other.

Half an hour later Jackson had left for work and Jerrod left to pick up Eric. Roger was waiting for Matt in the kitchen with David. He was patting both dogs and keeping an eye out the front window for when Matt's car pulled up.

"I hope it won't be intruding if I say something to you," David said. Roger looked up and shook his head. "Of course not."

"I only know part of what happened yesterday and last night, but enough to know that you handled it extremely well. It looks to me like you did precisely the right things."

Roger raised his eyebrows and smiled.

"I mean that," David went on. "First, as you told us over dinner, you reframed the situation and asked the right questions to get Jerrod to diagnose himself, to tell himself what was troubling him. That's very intuitive psychology, and much of what psychologists get paid to do." He grinned at Roger and got a smile back in response.

"Then you shifted gears to boyfriend and lover, realizing that he was hurting in a way that could only be addressed in a very limited number of ways. By that I mean your offer to spend the night with him even though it was a school night."

Roger started to protest, and David raised a hand and said, "Just hear me out. This is praise, not lip service. Many, I hope most, therapists wish there was more they could do for their clients once they help them to understand the root cause of their problem. You were in a unique situation that almost no therapist ever is, and that's just what you did. You didn't let school or homework or whatever was supposed to be done stand in the way, you just did what you knew needed to be done."

David paused, and Roger softly said, "What else could I do?"

"That, my friend, is the point. You could have done other things. You could have told Jerrod he was being a belligerent twit and let it go… but you didn't. You could have prioritized homework and the school routine of being home over the well being of your lover… but you didn't. Sure, he would have survived if you'd done either of those things, but he's far better off because of the choices you made."

"Thanks," Roger said. "What are you getting at?"

"Simply that you're one of the good guys, too, and in my estimation, one who should seriously be thinking about studying psychology. You seem to be a natural." He paused and then added, "Now, what's on the schedule for this week?"

"Well, another ramp training session for Kaiser after class today. Then tomorrow's the LGB club and on Thursday we meet Sean and his mom after school. We'll need to figure out how that works since Kaiser will be on a different program now. Then Friday we have a meeting about the pavilion and the petitions and the fund-raising stuff."

David laughed. "And then it'll be the weekend. What a life."

Roger was about to reply when he heard the horn on Matt's car honk out front.

"Thanks, Uncle David. I love you." He stood up and gave David a quick hug before he headed out the door.

Thursday's meeting with Sean and his mom went well because she'd called to check on Kaiser and then had spent the week managing Sean's expectations that Kaiser had hurt himself and wouldn't be able to play fetch the ball. Jerrod and Roger repositioned the situation so that Sean was now helping them train Chloe, and he seemed perfectly satisfied with that. He seemed quite content with the lighter workout with Chloe and Roger, while Jerrod walked Kaiser to a quiet part of the park.

The meeting on Friday after class was at David and Jackson's house, and turned out to cover some significant ground. They were meeting in the living room, and all agreed that they'd worked their contact lists and petitions about as far as they could and would likely not get many more signatures. That said, they realized when Roger tabulated the numbers, that over eighty percent of the former patients they had on their lists had signed a petition. On top of that, the parent's network was circulating their versions as well.

Jerrod asked Jackson to join them in the living room to update him and discuss next steps. "Well, first off," he said, "my hat's off to all of you for what you've accomplished. I doubt you understand how hard it is to achieve eighty percent of anything, but you did, and you're to be commended. As to next steps, the clock's ticking and I think it's time to make an appointment with Administration and present the petitions. I'll put the pressure on Warren and the other couple to get their petitions done, so hopefully when you get that meeting, you'll be able to present both of them."

"Will you be there with us, since you're coordinating with the parents?"

"Of course. I'm pretty certain that Warren will want to be there as well if he can. That way Administration realizes there's two forces involved here, the former patients led by you guys, and the patient's parents led by me and Warren. Trust me, It'll be fun!"

"Who's going to schedule the meeting? If Roger or I do it, it'll just be two volunteers from the dog therapy program trying to meet with Administration."

"Would you like me to kind of play the adult in the room and schedule the meeting? I'm happy to do it, but only if you all want me to. I don't want to take anything away from the work you've done."

Everyone agreed Jackson should try and schedule the meeting, that they'd all be there, and it would be best if Jackson and Warren were as well. They also agreed it was time to seriously get to work on getting items donated for the auction at the fund raiser.

Later that evening after they'd brought David up to speed on the meeting and plans for next steps, they were talking about how the week had gone and Roger said he had a question for David about something that came up in LGB club. David nodded with a smile on his face.

"Well, it's kind of cool because there's a few members that aren't LGB, like Matt. There's also a few that are out and Christian. I think I've told you that before, right?"

David nodded and said, "That is cool and shows that were making progress as a society."

"Yeah, but! It turns out that a couple of these out LGB Christians are pretty strident."

Jerrod giggled and said, "Strident! Where did you learn that?"

Roger poked him in the ribs and said, "I am taking English Lit, you know. It tends to increase one's vocabulary."

Jerrod leaned over and kissed the side of his face and said, "Indeed, and very well explained. My apologies for interrupting you."

Roger flashed him a smiled and went on. "So, what's coming out is that these two know most of the rest of us aren't Christians. Meaning some are what you told me about, nominal Christians. Some say they don't know what they believe about God. Some say they're agnostics and a few of us just lay it out that we're atheist."

"I'm not surprised that there's that range of positions or understandings in a group of university students," David said. "Sounds normal to me."

"Well, except that the two strident ones are in the hard core 'you've got to believe or you'll go to hell' camp, but when they got push back that basically came down to being asked why believing is so important, they started on an angle most of us didn't know how to respond to."

"And that was?"

"Besides the 'you've got to accept Jesus' stuff, that morality and values come from religion and that you can't have a moral society or raise children right without religion. Meaning you can't raise moral kids with good values unless they're religious. Specifically, unless they're Christian."

David chuckled. "Obviously they haven't met any Buddhists, have they?"

Roger chuckled in response. "Good one! I should have thought of that. Like pretty clearly the Dali Lama qualifies, right?"

David nodded his head and added, "For you and me, certainly, but they probably wouldn't consider him because he's a pagan. That's one of the problems with exclusive religious belief systems. So, where did all this end up?"

"Well, Matt and Kim and I tried to make the case that you don't have to be religious to have the right values, but they always kept coming back to morality comes from religion and quoting stuff like some scripture about raising children up right."

"You mean the one from Proverbs, 'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,' don't you?"

"Yeah, that's the one. So, how do you respond to that?"

"Well, the author of Proverbs was a Jew, not a Christian! And it's in the Old Testament which is hardly a tome on morality and societal values! I've always tended to think of it mainly as a teaching about indoctrinating children, so they don't stray. Beyond that it's simply that their's is one view and a biased one at that. The fact is that the world is full of people with good morals and values who aren't Christian, and many of them aren't believers in any religion at all. It's not necessary."

"But doesn't there have to be something? Some structure?"

"Of course there does. Look at you. We're you raised as a Christian going to church to get the right values instilled in you?"


"I rest my case. Your mom is kind of a distantly nominal Christian, for instance her connection with Samichlaus. Your father is a scientist and soft-spoken atheist. You didn't need to be steeped in religion because your parents provided an excellent model of values and morality."

"That's kind of what I was getting at and trying to say." Roger paused and smiled conspiratorially. "Would you be willing to come talk to our LGB club about it?"

Jackson was on the verge of laughing at what he saw as a set up, but managed to keep it to a chuckle followed by a knowing smile.

Roger looked at him, trying to act insulted. "This is for real. We all talked about it on the way home after the meeting and agreed on what we believed but that we weren't doing a good job of convincing them."

Jerrod jumped in and said, "I think, Jackson, that Roger is saying without a religious background he's struggling to make the case, so it's natural to turn to our resident expert." He glanced at his boyfriend and asked, "Right?"

Roger nodded and looked back at David who was smiling broadly. "It's been awhile since I've been called a resident expert about much of anything. Sure. I'll be glad to help. But rather than me come give a talk, how about I help you work through some of the material so you can better handle the discussion?"

"What? How I'm going to do that? I don't have any religious background, like Jerrod said."

"In terms of what you told me they challenged you about, you really don't need it. You are a bright and eloquent young man, and we've already established that you have good values and morals. You just need to explain that and where it comes from."

Roger realized he was unlikely to win an argument and that David was offering to do something for him not just so he could avoid it, but to deepen Roger's understanding on the subject. "How do we do that?"

"Well, the category you are talking about is humanism, so I'll give you some reading on its origin and development, and then we can discuss it. I think I can also give you some ammo to use on them." He grinned deviously and then said, "For example, do you know what Mahatma Gandhi said about Christianity?"

Roger shook his head, so David continued. "He said, ' I like your Christ, but not your Christianity. I believe in the teachings of Christ, but you on the other side of the world do not, I read the Bible faithfully and see little in Christendom that those who profess faith pretend to see.' That from a deeply spiritual man who lived out his faith and practiced pacifism. Something Christians tend to do the opposite of."

Roger was wide-eyed. "Are you serious?"

"Dead serious. The majority of Christians do not live a life consistent with the teachings of the New Testament."

Jackson added, "Back when he was still a minister, he used to talk a lot about Christians believing this or that, but very few of them living a life that looked like the Beatitudes. You know, living a life consistent with what they say they believe."

"This sounds like it could be fun."

"I guarantee it," David said. "I'll pull together some basic reading on humanism and some other stuff about where values come from because a lot of it is closely related to the effects of tribalism. Remember those talks about identity and the role of tribalism?"

Roger nodded, and David continued, "Changing the subject, what's on for the weekend?"

"We're working at the hospital Sunday afternoon, so we were going to walk the dogs tomorrow afternoon at Oaks Bottom Park. Maybe we can all do it together."

David looked at Jackson who nodded and said, "Count us in. We'll go shopping in the morning and walk in the afternoon. Are you guys going to your gay club tomorrow night?"

"No, Matt's taking Jessica to a movie and Kim and Eric wanted to do something different," Jerrod said, "so we're on our own."

They saw a grin form on Jackson's face. "Based on the expressions I saw on the face of the Bliss Twins the other morning, I think you two can probably do just fine on your own."

They all laughed and then Jackson added, "Why don't we all go have dinner at the Sellwood Grill? We haven't been for a while, and it'll be fun to go out together."

A sleep in, a late breakfast, the dog walk, and then dinner out made for a great Saturday, and Jerrod and Roger helped Jackson do some basic maintenance on the Dodge Challenger on Sunday morning before they headed up to the hospital. After their therapy dog rounds, they met with the program manager to update her on the petitions and the fund raiser. She was impressed that they were already scheduling a meeting with Administration to present the petitions.

"I have to tell you that the skeptical part of my brain assumed you were well intentioned about this but that it wouldn't go very far. I'm impressed with the completed petitions and that you're taking them to administration. Let me know if I can help. Now, let's talk about the therapy dog rodeo and the fundraiser."

They chatted about what kind of an event it could be and then she said, "I've spoken to quite a few of the dog handlers, and they're supportive because they know how important the pavilion is to all the therapy dogs and want it back after this construction project. That said, I think the starting point for our planning begins right there." She pointed at Kaiser and Chloe sprawled out on the floor.

"What does that mean?"

"It means you've got an older experienced dog and a younger one who's quite good but still learning. So, we need to split it into Advanced and Beginner, so the dogs are competing fairly."

Jerrod glanced at Roger who nodded and then said, "Makes sense. What do we have them do, though? We've been talking about it and if it's just like the qualification exercise all the therapy dogs go through before they start, you know, walking up to wheelchairs and not jumping on patients, that'd be pretty boring for the audience."

"You're right about that. Now, most of these dogs haven't had any show training, let alone training for competitive activities, but maybe we set it up to test their abilities in unfamiliar areas. What do you think?"

"Interesting. Tell us more."

"Well, if you're into dogs and training, when you go to a show or a competition, you're looking for quality performance. We don't need to try for showy precision… that's not what we're after and it's not necessary for service work. However, some aspects of showing dogs and of agility work can be really beneficial for therapy and service dogs. We all agree about obedience training, heeling, solid sit stays, right? Maybe we do that for the Beginner dogs, and it might fun for everyone to watch them being tested a little. On the performance side, running a course with pivots, weaves and obedience cues are all good skills. What if we set up a fairly simple course that the handler and advanced dogs have to run? Nothing too long or complicated with long tunnels or high climbs and jumps, but enough that it tests how they work together."

"Sounds good to me," Roger said. Jerrod agreed, and then added, "Will that be entertaining for the audience?"

"It will be mildly entertaining and interesting because everyone in the audience will be connected to the therapy dogs and want them to do well. But where the entertainment will come in is when things go awry. Like the Beginner dog that tries to sneak away from the Sit/Stay command. Or the Advanced dog that gets off course and takes the handler with her. It's the unexpected events, and trust me they will happen, that will be the real entertaining part."

"Don't we need to tell all the handlers so they can do some training, or whatever, to get ready?"

She looked at both boys and said, "I think that would be a mistake. First, it will remove some of the element of surprise. This is a fun competition for a good cause, not a rated event. In addition, there's another part. The last thing our therapy dogs who already have demanding work schedules need is additional pressure from forced training in a whole new range of skills. Let's aim to keep it fun and let spontaneity reign. We're still aiming for Spring Break, right?"

"Yeah, and one of the next thing's we've got to lock down is the date and confirm we can hold it at the Y. We'll get on that right away."

"You boys do that and keep working on the fundraiser part and I'll draw up a basic competition plan we can look at next Sunday. Make sense?"

They all agreed and then headed home.

Monday was another planning meeting after class where they were going to draw up a list of prospective companies to approach for auction item contributions. They'd invited Alice, and she arrived a few minutes after all the students had settled around the dining room table. David told them he'd be in the study if he was needed.

They began by summarizing where they were and bringing Alice up to speed on the petitions, and that Jackson had planned on calling Administration during the day to try and set up the meeting. "Hopefully he'll have an update on that when he gets home from work," Jerrod said.

"And hopefully the outcome is favorable, and Administration doesn't give him the bureaucratic run around. If that happens, let me know and I may be able to approach one or two of my friends who are on the Legacy hospital board, as I'm sure they know board members at Doernbecher."

Jessica grinned at her mother. "It's all about who you know, right, Mom?"

"Well, I wouldn't say it's all about who you know, but knowing the right people can be very helpful in certain circumstances. For instance, when you need to overcome bureaucratic obstacles." She smiled conspiratorially, and then added, "I have some news for you all."

She had everyone's attention and Jessica said, "Come on, don't keep us hanging, Mom."

Alice's smiled widened, and she said, "It's good news. One of the Legacy board members I just referred to is on the board of directors for the Y, and he connected me with their Director and we have approval to hold the fundraising event there on the Friday of spring break."

A loud array of hooting and hollering took place, which brought David in to check on things, and he commended Alice for achieving a big milestone. Everyone wanted to know how she'd pulled it off.

"Well, as I said, it's about knowing a board member," and she winked slyly. "I explained to him what was going on, the problem trying to be solved and that it was a fundraiser to benefit Doernbecher and the hospital's patients and therapy dogs. That was enough for him, and he gave me the director's name and called and asked him to meet with me. I explained the same things to the director, and then spent a little time discussing our shared missions."

The teens glanced at each other curiously, and then Matt said, "Help us out, please, Alice. I'm not sure we're all following you."

"Well, it's quite simple really. It may be an event for a hospital being held at the Y, but ask yourselves what a children's hospital and either the YMCA or YWCA have in common. It's children, obviously. Both serve children. That's what's known as aligned missions. Different, but aligned. So, it wasn't too difficult to expand on that, discuss mutual benefit, that there would be public awareness and good press that would help the Y, etc., etc. The long and the short of it is that we have the gymnasium for that Friday night at no cost. However, we have to pay for any damage and are responsible for clean up."

"That makes sense," Jerrod said.

"The clean up he was most worried about," Alice said, "would be dogs having accidents. So, we should have dog poop bags at hand, cleaning supplies, etc. to make sure any accidents are dealt with right away and completely."

Alice was assured that would happen and then they turned to compiling the list of businesses to target for auction contributions. Alice's counsel was simple: aim high. "Don't go into the Sherwin Williams Paint Store and just ask for a gallon of paint. Ask for enough paint to repaint a house. What's that saying from basketball?" She looked at Jessica questioningly.

"You mean 'go big or go home,' don't you?"

"I do indeed. You should ask Warren and Jackson to speak to the travel agencies their companies use and then approach them for a weekend trip. I told you how well that worked at our last auction. You also will need a flyer tailored for the companies you're calling on." She paused and then added, "Jessica may be able to help with that."

"Done," Jessica said. "Before we leave tonight, let's rough out some copy and I'll mock something up by tomorrow. We've got less than a month to go, so we've got to get to work."

Their meeting was complete and assignments handed out and everyone gone by the time Jackson got home, but he was very excited with Alice's news about the use of the Y. Jerrod gave him an appraising look and then asked, "Did you get blown off by Administration, because Alice said she might be able to use a Legacy board member to get Admin's attention if you got the bureaucratic run around."

Jackson smiled like the cat that got the cream. "Well, that was nice of Alice to offer, but I don't think it will be necessary. I got past the admin assistant by using the name of my company. We're a medical device company, so there's a health care connection. That got me through to the Director of Administration and I outlined the situation and the reasons for the proposed meeting. He was resistant, as you might expect, though he didn't know about the fact that the pavilion is important to the therapy dogs and that it wasn't part of the construction project."

"What?" Jerrod was incredulous. "How could he not know?"

"Probably because he's responsible for general administration at the hospital and isn't up to speed on the details of construction projects. Anyhow, he tried to blow me off like 'I'll need to talk to the project manager and understand the specifics,' you know, the run around. That's when I told him he should do that but that he should also meet with us because there was more to this than a recognition that there was a planning hole in the construction plans." Jackson paused for effect.

David had been quiet, but then said, "It must have been classic Jackson at work. I can see it now, this was kind of how you got to the president of the construction company that Matt worked for last summer, right?"

Jackson grinned and said, "Well, kind of. Basically, I let him know that he was undoubtedly unaware of something else that had been going on, namely two petition campaigns among former patients and the parents of those patients, and that he would probably want to be fully informed to properly and completely manage the likely public relations aspects related to them."

"What does that mean in plain English, Jackson?" Jerrod asked.

"It means," David answered, "that without threatening him in any way, Jackson let him know that what was going on with the petitions was going to get to the press sooner rather than later, and it would be better for him and his job and the hospital if he knew about it and was part of it, rather than have the hospital caught by surprise. Am I right?"

"Yep, that's pretty much it. Early on I'd let him know I used to work for one of the big ad agencies in town and have done a lot of press relations. From there it wasn't hard for him to connect the dots that I had my shit together and had press contacts. Meaning that there was suddenly before him both a risk and an opportunity, and that it would definitely be to his benefit to be receptive, which would begin with a meeting. Which, I'm happy to inform you, we have scheduled for this Friday at 4:00 PM. Can we get everyone there?"

"Wow! Good for you, man! I am totally impressed with the strategy you used. Where'd you learn this stuff?"

Jackson grinned again. "David told me back in high school I was an entrepreneur and had leadership abilities, and I learned a few things along the ways about sales and marketing. It ain't rocket science."

"Well, 4:00 PM might be a problem for some of us with class schedules, but it's a Friday, so I'll call everyone this evening and clue them in. That means getting off campus at least by three o'clock, right?"

Jackson nodded. "Yep, and we'll probably end up taking a couple of cars and meeting at the hospital. We can work the logistics out as we get closer. What else did you all cover in your meeting?"

Jerrod filled him in on the list of businesses they were targeting for contributions and that everyone had their assignments to work on.

Jackson grinned again. "Good, that'll keep you busy and out of trouble. I'll get the travel agency info for you tomorrow. Now, speaking of keeping busy and out of trouble, I feel the need for a drink and then probably to get started working on dinner." He looked over at David. "May I interest you in joining me?"

"Absolutely! I'll take a single malt Scotch with a wee splash of water and then let's get cooking."

"While you guys cook, I'll make phone calls. How's that?"

During the week a number of first calls were made on businesses about contributions, but almost all of them ended up as having to 'talk to the manager or owner, so please check back.' The main attention, however, was on Friday's meeting at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Jessica was unable to get out of her student coaching assignments, and Eric had a late class he couldn't miss, and Warren was traveling on business. That meant Matt, Roger and Kim drove to Doernbecher without Jessica who got a ride home later. Jackson picked up Jerrod and then Nate and they all met in the lobby of the hospital at 3:45 PM. Jackson gave them a short expectation management talk focused on the concept of stay on message and don't get emotional. Then he pointed them at the restrooms before they walked to the administration offices.

They were shown into a small conference room and two minutes later the Director of Administration came in accompanied by another man he introduced as the Vice-President of Facilities. They went around the table introducing themselves, after which the Director said, "Very good. So, if I have this right, you two," and here he pointed at Jerrod and Roger, "are volunteers in the dog therapy program, meaning you're affiliated with the hospital, and the rest of you are friends. Is that correct?"

Everyone said 'Yes,' except for Jackson who then said, "You should understand that while Jerrod and Roger are volunteers with the dog therapy program, Nate is a former patient and Matt is his brother. Nate's best friend lives in Pendleton and was a patient also. So, to use your terms, they are all affiliated with the hospital. And trust me, they represent important constituents relative to the pavilion in question."

The Director then started trying to make the case that he'd asked the VP of Facilities to join the meeting because he was responsible for the construction project, and certainly his team of construction professionals would more fully understand the hospital's needs and requirements than two hospital volunteers and their friends.

The room was silent, and Jackson couldn't help but notice the smug looks on the two older men's faces. Then he said, "What you said may be true in terms of experience and technical competence, but," and here he turned to the VP, "when the needs assessment was conducted for this construction project, did anyone speak to either the patients or the dog therapy program personnel about the impact that removing the pavilion would have on the dogs or the therapy?"

The VP was quiet, apparently scrambling for an answer and then he said, "We spoke to all the major stakeholders as we determined what the requirements were for the expansion of that hospital wing."

"Can you explain to me who comprised 'all the stakeholders?' Just so I'm clear."

"Certainly. Nursing, Patient Care Services, the doctors that work on those floors, logistics, and all the ancillary services."

"In other words, it sounds like everyone except the patients that come to this hospital for care and the dog therapy personnel that provide their specialized therapy to help those patients recover."

"Well, that is a gross overstatement! We have a standard model for assessing needs, confirming those needs, seeking approvals and funding, and the like."

"Then explain to me, if you would please, why that standard model excludes the patients. Is it because they're children and too immature to be able to contribute significantly? Why didn't it include the parents of the patients who certainly would be mature enough to speak for their children and contribute? Or, given how well known the dog therapy program at Doernbecher is, why didn't it include the dog therapy personnel when you were removing a piece of infrastructure that's very important to that program?"

"Mr. Dean, I am somewhat offended by the assertion you are making. We have a standard model, and we followed that model."

"I don't doubt that you did. But that's not what I'm asking you about. What I'm asking you about is how you could remove a piece of infrastructure central to one of your programs and not discuss it with the people and dogs impacted."

"Mr. Dean, it is a wood pavilion in the courtyard of the hospital. It's hardly central to the world-class healthcare delivered by this facility to it's patients."

Jackson was quiet for a minute, waiting to see if the VP would say anything else. He didn't, so Jackson looked at the Director, who chose to be silent as well. Then he looked at Jerrod and Roger and Matt and Nate and Kim. He could tell they were all in various stages of outrage. He raised his eyebrows as if to ask, 'shall I?' and smiled softly. Jerrod and Roger vigorously nodded, and Jackson reached down for his briefcase and placed it on the conference table.

"Well, gentlemen, none of us are here to dispute whether or not this hospital delivers world-class healthcare to it's patients. What I would point out to you is that you have missed a rather significant aspect of the delivery of that world-class health care, and that is the dog therapy program with its large number of dogs and volunteers. I'm sure you recall how many times in recent years that dog therapy program has been written up in The Oregonian newspaper, or appeared in stories on local TV stations, correct?"

The VP and Director made grudging nods.

Jackson went on, "So, gentlemen, with all that said, we—and by we, I mean all of us here who you described a few minutes ago as 'a couple of volunteers and their unaffiliated friends,' we are here to present you with these." At that point he pulled two sheafs of papers out of his briefcase and placed them on the table in front of the VP and the Director.

"These are two petitions concerning the removal of the pavilion with no plans for its replacement, which also explain the important role that it plays. This one," and he pointed to the thicker sheaf, "is a petition signed by former patients and represents over 85% of patients that have benefited from the dog therapy program in the past five years. This one," and here he pointed at the second sheaf, "is a petition signed by the parents of the majority of the children who signed the patient's petition."

He paused for effect and then went on, "The point, gentlemen, is that I'm just the spokesmen for these young people that you just tried to put in their place and make feel inferior to your professional experts. The point is that if you read the petitions themselves you will learn how central the dog therapy program was to the care these patients received here, and how much more those patients and their parents understand about what the dogs and their volunteer handlers need to be successful, which includes a pavilion that's used for rest and rehab and is out of the weather."

Jackson stopped and the room was silent. The VP and the Director looked at the sheafs in front of them and then at each other, and then the Director said, "First, let me assure it was not our intent to belittle you or make any of you feel like second class citizens. Further, we appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention, and I assure you that we will meet with our respective project teams and discuss it fully and then be back in touch with you."

Jackson had been making eye contact with the boys and they were all smiling softly. He turned back to the VP and the Director and said, "That's fine. I hope you will do so seriously and be back in touch with us in a timely manner. While we're here we want to inform you of one other thing. We fully understand that replacing something as apparently trivial as the pavilion has a cost and it would not have been budgeted for in the construction project. So be aware that what these petitions represent is important enough that these young people have organized a major fundraiser that will be held in a few weeks to raise money to replace the pavilion. That event will include many therapy dogs showing off their skills, and all the local media are being invited to cover the event… and of course to learn that the funds being raised are for the purpose of replacing the pavilion."

The VP sat up straight in his chair and said, "Mr. Dean, you aren't threatening us, are you? Because this hospital is certainly capable of raising in its own funds as it has done for the present project."

Jackson looked him straight in the eye and said, "No, sir. Far be it from me, or any of us, to threaten you or the hospital. We just want you to understand that this piece of infrastructure is important enough to the dog therapy program and to the patients that benefit from it, that we want to help however we can, including financially."

They all saw the VP stiffen and about to say something else when the Director placed a hand on his arm to quiet him and said, "There's no need for this meeting to get contentious. We thank you for initiating this productive dialogue and for delivering these petitions and for bringing this matter to our attention. Let us consider it internally, and we will be back to you, no later than… shall we say, the end of next week."

Jackson smiled at them both and replied, "That will be just fine. Here's my card. Also, so you know, the gentleman who led the parent's petition drive is out of town on business, but he asked me to leave his card for you as well, in case you elect to call him. He works for an athletic shoe company in Beaverton… I'm sure you'll recognize the logo. Finally, for the record, what you have before you is the original petitions with all the original signatures. We were sure that you would require those to be assured they are valid and authentic. We've retained copies of them all so that we could provide you with the originals."

With that the meeting broke up and they headed to their cars. Jackson said, "We'll all meet back at our house. Matt, will you call Jessica and see if she can make it? Kim, can you call Eric? Let's get the whole team together to discuss this."

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