Honoring a Heritage of Giving Back

December 22, 2021

Al Douglass and Jill Raker Hudders Douglass

Al and Jill Douglass don’t need a crystal ball to see the future of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and its impact on the community and the world.

“We know the track record of hope and healing that this organization has brought to the Lehigh Valley and were thrilled when we learned about plans for a new hospital,” says Al. “Good Shepherd changes lives every day, and with this new hospital, we know that our friends, neighbors and greater community will benefit from world-class expertise, innovative treatments and the latest technologies.”

As co-chairs of the Hope Starts Here capital campaign supporting Good Shepherd’s new hospital in Center Valley, and as donors who have made a leadership gift of $1 million to kick-start the campaign, Al, and his wife Jill Raker Hudders Douglass, want Good Shepherd to be the premiere destination rehabilitation hospital, not just today but long into the future. The hospital is slated to open in early 2023.

“You’ve got people fighting to come back and recover from catastrophic and age-related injuries, and you have to give them a venue that’s uplifting,” says Al. “That’s what this hospital will do.”

With the average length of stay for patients with complex neurological conditions ranging from 18 days to eight weeks depending on the diagnosis, Al sees the 76-bed hospital with all private rooms as a welcome change from the current facility. “If I was a patient, I want a private place where my family can visit. It’s absolutely necessary,” he says.

Jill likes the Center Valley location with its proximity to major highways and across from the Promenade Shops. “People coming from a distance have easy access, and there are restaurants and things for family members and children to do,” she says.

Al and Jill have deep roots in the community and noteworthy ancestry with Good Shepherd. Jill is the granddaughter of founders the Rev. John and Estella Raker. Her uncle was the late Rev. Dr. Conrad Raker, son of John and Estella, and served as superintendent and then administrator from 1941 to 1980. Jill’s mother, Roberta Raker Hudders, was Conrad’s sister.

When Jill and Al were asked to be campaign co-chairs, Jill heard those ancestral voices guiding her. “I heard my mother say, ‘Of course you will,’” says Jill. “And, of course my Uncle Connie. He would be gung-ho and right out there, thrilled and excited. I thought of them all. It’s my heritage and my sweet husband agreed.”

“It’s in my DNA to give back,” says Al.

“And it’s certainly in my family,” says Jill. “I’m so happy we can do this. It’s exciting.”

Al and Jill think the new hospital and senior leadership’s vision to revolutionize rehabilitation are vital to the community. With technology playing an ever bigger role in improving rehabilitation outcomes, they believe the time to invest in and build the new hospital is now.

“It is absolutely critical to have this hospital,” says Al. “What intrigues me as an investor is that we are at a juncture where technology will be revolutionary and will speed up recovery and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. This hospital will be driving that with state-of-the-art technology and the best trained professionals to get people back on their feet safely and as soon as possible. The need is there, and I think with Good Shepherd President & CEO Michael Spigel’s vision and drive, we have the leadership today that really can take us to the next step.”

You can revolutionize rehabilitation. Join Al and Jill Douglass in supporting Good Shepherd’s Hope Starts Here capital campaign. For more information on impactful giving in life-changing ways contact, Rebecca McAtee, capital campaign officer, [email protected]