Sharon and Bill Bush

Meet longtime Friends of Mercy and Adelaide's Circle of Caring Members Sharon and Bill Bush

Sharon and Bill Bush are a dynamic duo, raising funds for a myriad of programs and services of the Friends of Mercy Foundation. Their energy has been the catalyst to jump-start many projects and their dedication has set the tone for much of the Foundation’s work.

Sharon has very close ties to Mercy Hospitals. She was born at Mercy Downtown, grew up in Bakersfield and decided to pursue a career in nursing. She worked at Mercy as an operating room nurse in the 1960s. After retiring, she was approached to serve as a Director of the Friends of Mercy Foundation by the late Sid Sheffield, then Executive Director of the organization. “I still remember meeting with Sid and Mikie Hay, who was serving as a Board Member for the Foundation,” Sharon recalls. “I told them fundraising was not my strong suit but Sid kept insisting it was a perfect fit for me.”

He was right. Sharon parlayed her past experience with Junior League and the American Cancer Society – along with a lifetime of love for Mercy – to help raise funds for the hospital’s capital campaigns, special programs and services. “I feel ownership about Mercy,” says Sharon. “I am very proud of the level of care we provide to our community.” This type of active commitment and participation is matched by Bill.  He joined the Friends of Mercy Foundation as a Board member in 2005 and now serves as Vice Chair of the Mercy Hospital Board. Through his work on the Foundation and in the community, he has encouraged prospective new donors to consider investing in Mercy.

“I think many people don’t like to do fundraising.  But without the funds we can’t do what we need to do,” says Bill, who also takes a practical approach regarding health care. “I view this as the same as an insurance policy,” he explains. “When you take out insurance, you hope you never have to use it. However, if you do, you want it to be the very best you can get. That’s how I feel about health care and why it’s important to invest in developing Mercy.”

Sharon echoes his feelings about their work with Mercy.  “This may sound trite but it is so true – our health is more important than any material possession we own. “We’ve been very fortunate in our family,” says Bill, “and I hope it always stays that way. But I’m also realistic. When one of us, or someone in the family, or a good friend needs medical care we want it to be the best possible.”

Bill and Sharon share their views with friends and associates, reminding them how important it is for Bakersfield to have top-notch health care services. They are effective fundraisers because they believe passionately about the cause. They not only talk about giving but have also personally invested in every Mercy Hospital capital campaign and helped fund special programs and services.

Two examples of the Bush’s commitment to Mercy are the charitable gift annuity they established with the Foundation and including Mercy in their will –  giving options they often recommend to their peers. “We wouldn’t feel comfortable asking people to give money to something we hadn’t already participated in,” says Bill. “It’s important to put your money where your mouth is, otherwise how can people really believe in what you’re saying? ”. Bill champions the benefits of setting up a charitable gift annuity with the Foundation because of the advantages it presents to the donor. With this type of planned giving, the donor transfers cash or property to the charity in exchange for a partial tax deduction and a lifetime stream of annual income from the charity. When the donor passes away, the charity keeps the gift. 

“A charitable gift annuity presents a win-win situation,” says Bill. “And because it provides the tax deduction for the donor, it’s a great incentive.”

Bill and Sharon have been great Friends of Mercy for almost three decades. Sharon helped establish the Catherine McAuley Society, a women’s philanthropic society now it it’s 12th year; and Bill is a Charter Member of the William Howell Century Club, a men’s philanthropic group currently in its 8th year. Their generosity has helped fund countless Mercy projects including the Wheeler Cancer Center, renovation of Mercy Southwest’s Family Birth Center, renovation of the Emergency Department and the bringing of the most advanced robotic surgical equipment to Mercy – the Da Vinci Xi.

Their legacy of giving continues with the next generation getting involved in the Friends of Mercy Foundation. Their daughter Alissa and daughters-in-law Mesha and Jennifer are all members of the Catherine McAuley Society and their son-in-law Jeff is a former Foundation Board Member. “We’re really pleased to see the next generation of Bakersfield coming forward into these roles,” says Sharon. “They’ll be carrying the torch forward to make sure we have the best health care for the future.”

Thank you Bill and Sharon, we truly appreciate your commitment to Mercy Hospitals and the Friends of Mercy Foundation.