In 1914, the Children's Hospital Branches were formed. Modeled after the “Twigs” for community support for a New York hospital, the Branches organized volunteers who put together a variety of fundraising and philanthropic efforts – from country fairs to asking for beds and equipment for the new hospital, Baby Hospital of Alameda County, founded in 1912".
The Cacao Branch was founded in 1975 by two community activists, Della Simpson and Gail Berkley to increase both African American awareness and participation in helping the large percentage of minority children receiving care at Children's Hospital, Oakland. It was time to form a branch that was rooted in the African-American community. The Cacao Branch founders created the very first Oakland-based African American branch of Children's Hospital in recognition that the children of our community deserve our support. It was 1975 and Oakland's African American community was involved in a movement for social change to address many community concerns, including access to healthcare. This movement impacted Children's and contributed to the creation of the Cacao Branch.
Many of the early members became interested in supporting Children's Hospital to ensure that children with sickle cell disease had access to the best medical care. The Hospital has been internationally recognized for the comprehensive care of sickle cell patients and our leading researchers are now on the verge of finding a cure for this disease. There are so many diseases that continue to affect our community and we still want to make sure minority children continue to get access and the best care at Children's. This is our mission!
Branch members raise funds, volunteer and serve as passionate advocates for Children's Hospital, Oakland. There are currently 10 active Children's Hospital Branches in our community around the Bay Area and each is named after a different Tree. The Cacao Tree was chosen by our founders for its uniqueness and ability to thrive under harsh conditions. Members volunteer their time at the Children's Family House (a home away from home for families with children in the hospital), and other departments of the Hospital, including the gift shop.
Over the years, the Cacao Branch has sponsored and raised funds from our popular bid whist luncheons, The Day at the Races, the Young Musicians Jazz Jam just to name a few events. We are proud that we have raised over $200,000 for Children's Hospital's research and care of it's patients.
Generations of family members have served the Cacao Branch. It's a family affair (Nia Blakeney and her mother Karen Gordon are members as was Elise, Karen's Mother), mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and relatives participate in giving back to our Oakland community through Children's Hospital Branches. We are proud of the foundation our founders created, the legacy they passed on and the future we continue to build for generations to come.