Mary Soukup and a Legacy of Giving Back
Mary Soukup has saved a life. She's probably saved more than just one. Sometimes that's what happens when a person commits themself to the greater good.
Watch Mary's story, performed by Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex, Party Down) and written by Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift, Pan), below. You can also read the full text from the script below the video.
Let me tell you a little bit about Mary Soukup. Mary now lives at MPTF’s Long Term Care Unit in Woodland Hills, but she is originally a Boston girl. Now, I know you’re never supposed to tell a lady’s age, but Mary has promised it’s okay to tell you all she’s now 94 years young. Although, if any of her friends ask, say 93. She also wants you to know she has 7 children, 18 grand children and 3 great grand children. What Mary doesn’t know, though, is that just last week…
She saved a life.
Not metaphorically. Not spiritually. Actually, literally, like Wonder Woman in a wheel chair…saved a human life.
Without even realizing it, Mary became someone’s real-life hero. She made a difference. All by following an impulse that has guided her entire life. The drive to help those around her. The seemingly reflexive compulsion to put others before herself. And because of that, someone who might not have had a chance, does.
To understand why…you have to understand Mary.
Mary’s has been a life spent in the service of those in need. She came of age in the era of Franklin Roosevelt, when notions of public service were permeating and transforming the American consciousness. In the shadow of war, in a time when many women still abstained from higher education, Mary left home for the University of Chicago where she received her master's degree in social work in 1951.
Mary worked as a social worker for her entire professional life. In the trenches for over seven decades, she still found time to fall in love, meeting and marrying her extraordinary husband, Vincent, who worked at CBS here in Los Angeles for over 25 years in AMPTP-Contract Services. As Vincent always told it, he never saw the ever-generous Mary ever take anything from anyone--except, that is, for his heart.
But of all her many achievements, Mary will tell you none makes her prouder than the family she and Vincent built together. A family as dedicated to public service as their mother.
Her daughters, Patricia and Terry, both taught in public schools for over 25 years. Her other daughter, Jeanne, is an RN at the Los Angeles County Department of Health. And her sons, Joseph, John and Robert, all followed in their father’s footsteps and work at CBS; John, VP of Finance for CBS Entertainment, and Bob, who’s with Local 724 at CBS’s Studio Center Supply Station.
Her eldest son, Joe, even became the Senior VP and General Manager of the CBS Radford Lot.
Now, in 2006, the family applied for Mary to take up residency at an MPTF assisted care-facility and shortly thereafter she moved into the Stark Villas. She lived there for six years until October 2012 when, in need of rehabilitation services, she moved into their Long-Term Care facility. To hear her family tell it, the services and care provided both at the Stark Villas and in the long-term care unit have been nothing short of life saving.
This is where Mary’s living legacy began to take shape.
Her son, Joe, now fully acquainted with MPTF and the extraordinary services it provided Mary, got involved with the organization. And, as his mom--or Haley Joel Osment--would say: he paid it forward.
While Mary was first getting her bearings in Woodland Hills, Dr. Dennis Green and Lorraine Bonanno were in the nascent stages of creating the Health Wheels program for MPTF.
Aware that the unique demands of a career in entertainment industry often forced proper medical care to be postponed or sacrificed completely, Dr. Green and Ms. Bonanno decided something needed to be done. Health Wheels was born of that determination: a mobile health program from MPTF, with care from UCLA Health physicians, delivering healthcare services directly to people where they work.
If you step onto the Health Wheels trailer, you’ll find a 33-foot, fully-functional and professional mobile health center. From physicals, to well-woman exams, EKGs, flu shots and other immunizations, blood pressure checks, cholesterol and glucose screenings and vision and hearing checks--the Health Wheels trailer is basically the mobile medical equivalent of Air Force One, presided over by Dr. Laura Meisel.
And that’s where Mary’s son, Joe, comes in.
Joe immediately recognized the benefits of the program and became its biggest advocate, fighting to bring Health Wheels to CBS Radford. Change is never easy and not everyone immediately understood how it would work, if it could work, for that matter. But Joe is his mother’s son and refused to miss the opportunity to help make an impact on the lives of his coworkers at CBS. Coworkers Joe lovingly describes as his extended family.
The effects at Radford and at studios across the industry have been felt by so many.
A patient just within these last two weeks visited Health Wheels complaining of urinary pains. A minor nuisance he surely would not have looked further into if not for the convenience of this program. It now appears the preventative care provided by the program caught the early stages of prostate cancer at a point where the patient can be treated safely with an overwhelming likelihood of a full recovery.
These stories of success are bricks in a path that lead from Dr. Meisel to Dr. Green and Lorraine Bonanno to Joe Soukup and--ultimately--straight to Mary whose example and love and determination shaped three generations of family and helped save the life of a man she will never meet, but who owes her everything.
As a little girl, Mary would have heard President Roosevelt tell a downtrodden nation, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” Mary, for the better part of nine decades, has helped craft that better world, has helped us and the people she has touched inch closer toward that permanent horizon.
Not bad for a regular girl from Boston with the humble aspiration to affect the lives of those around her for the better. Mission accomplished, Mary.
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