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Allina Health Regina Hospital Tunnel Brightened By Generations of Hastings Girl Scouts

Regina Hospital 12/21/2016Regina-Hospital-tunnel

For Eliza Varien, Regina Hospital’s underground tunnel is a walk down memory lane.

“I do remember being down there and it being sort of a magical place, because it was this secret tunnel under the hospital that no one had ever heard of. I even remember the way it smelled.”

Varien was a member of the Hastings Girl Scout Troop 725 30 years ago. At nine years old, she was one of dozens of Girl Scouts who painted a mural on part of the hospital’s tunnel as a joint project between the two organizations, meant to brighten the space. “You’re just down there and it’s bright colors and you’re painting on a wall, which is every kid’s wish, just to paint all over a wall, and so that was a lot of fun.” Fun and inviting—at least Varien’s former troop leader Carol Schmitt thinks so. “The mural is beautiful. I just love it. It brings a lot of joy to people walking through the tunnel, especially some of the ones who are in the nursing homes that go over to the clinic, because I talk to some of those and they get such a big charge out of it.”

Thirty years later, when Regina reached out to create a second panel of the mural, Girl Scouts River Valleys Volunteer Support Coordinator Sandi Powers felt the project was primed for a fresh coat of imagination from a new group of Girl Scouts. “Making our mark in the community and being able to serve others is what Girl Scouts do and that’s part of what Allina Health does—serving others and so it (the project) really follows that same messaging.”

Thirteen year-old Hastings/Prescott Girl Scout troop member Bailey Struve created the drawing that forms a new stretch of the tunnel brightener. From Daisies on up, it is yet another chance for troop members to come together and learn life lessons—like team work. “After I was done sketching it, I started to paint it and little Girl Scouts came on the weekends and helped me to paint certain things, like they did these clouds and they helped with the river down here,” said Struve.

“The continuation of the mural exemplifies the longstanding partnerships Allina Health Regina Hospital has with the Hastings community,” said Brandi Poellinger, director of Community Engagement and the Regina Foundation. “We’re very grateful to have such wonderful kids taking the time to make our hospital a beautiful place.”

While the original mural focused on Hastings through the seasons, the new mural features the city’s landmarks and happenings, such as the Hastings Bridge, Harmony Park, disc golf and Little Free Libraries. At a mural reveal party on Monday, Varien reflected on three decades of Hastings history, now recorded on the tunnel walls. “To see it, it was very neat to go along and see the Hastings River Walk and the bridge and the balloons that they were letting go over the bridge because I was there when we did that.”

Schmitt hopes the partnership will continue. “It’s just another generation taking on where they left off. It’s really neat. I’m so glad the program is still going because my girls got so much out of it and they’re all still friends and their kids are still friends.”

Viewing the mural with other original Girl Scouts who attended the event, Varien says the artwork beautifully blends the troop’s past and future. “It was really neat to see all of the girls down there. It brought tears to my eyes to see all of these tiny little Girl Scouts with their little vests down there and knowing they are working on the same sort of thing. It’s really cool to be part of that and that cycle and be connected to the community in that way.”

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services

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