Rinko Yoshioka had two great passions in her life – children and nursing. Given that combination it comes as no surprise that she chose Children’s Hospital Central California to receive $100,000 from a trust she and her husband formed almost 20 years ago.
The Yoshioka’s passion for children was a constant in their lives, “We never had kids of our own,” said Mrs. Yoshioka, “So we just kind of adopted all of our neighbors. We were always having them over to play, taking them fishing, all of those things. I think we liked kids because they are so innocent. I think most people must feel the same way.”
Mrs. Yoshioka recalls the years her husband was a foreman on the Gunner Ranch in Madera County, when little Richard Gunner would come to her kitchen looking the freshly baked cookies she always had ready for him. That same little boy grew up to donate the land on which Children’s Hospital now stands.
Mrs. Yoshioka’s passion for nursing grew from her experiences while interned at the Gila River Relocation Camp during World War II. “While I was there I trained to be a nurse’s aid,” she said. “Then I worked for almost two years taking care of tuberculosis patients in the camp. Some people would have been afraid, but I never was. We did everything, but of course it was much different then. We boiled their silverware, cleaned and reused the syringes, very basic things. Health care is much different now.”
Her donation acknowledges that difference in care. Mrs. Yoshioka donated the $100,000 in memory of her youngest brother, Shoji Arthur Matsumoto, who died from pneumonia when he was just two years old. “It was the 1940’s and they didn’t have what they have now,” she said. “Now there are so many wonderful drugs and treatments and special places like Children’s Hospital. Now kids don’t have to die from pneumonia.”
“My brother was just in a regular hospital, not a children’s hospital. They didn’t even have a special pediatrics ward,” said Mrs. Yoshioka. “We are so lucky to have Children’s Hospital now to care for children. They have all the special things to take care of kids and keep them from dying like my brother did.”
After the war Mrs. Yoshioka continued to work as a nurses aid, then went on to become a nurse. Still, she stayed close to children, working in the pediatric unit of Valley Medical Center and as resident nurse at the Fresno County Juvenile Hall. “In all my years there I never had a problem with the kids,” she said. “They knew I was there to take care of them and they were very good for me.”
Last year Mrs. Yoshioka’s husband passed away after 62 years of marriage, and she began the job of distributing the money from their trust. “We chose Children’s Hospital years ago. When we first formed the trust we talked for a long time about where we wanted our money to go. We were not rich, but we saved throughout our lives and wanted to make sure it went where we wanted when we were gone.”
Their reason for choosing Children’s Hospital? Quite simply, to continue to care for kids the way she had through her entire lifetime. “Since we had no children of our own to help, we wanted to help other children. We have always supported Children’s Hospital, so it just seemed like what we should do.”