, a New York Hospital nursing graduate, was teaching hygiene to immigrant women on the Lower East Side when a weeping child came into the classroom. "My mother is sick," she said.
Wald followed the child back to a cramped tenement. The young mother lay in a dirty bed soaked with blood. She had been hemorrhaging since giving birth two days ago. The disabled husband made a living begging on the street.
Wald cleaned up the bed and comforted the family. When she turned to go, everyone was so grateful they kissed her hand.
This happened in 1893 when the Lower East Side had the densest population in the world with 1,000 people per acre. The event changed Wald’s life and eventually founded the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Today it is the largest certified nonprofit home health care organization in the nation, caring for more the 31,000 patients on any day.
In 2006 VNSNY provided more than $29 million in charitable care services. At its annual benefit in November at the Waldorf-Astoria, more than 700 guests raised $1 million to care for 10,000 children and their families.
President Carol Raphael and chairman Douglas D. Broadwater presented the Lillian D. Wald Award to esteemed supporters Peter Bergmann, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft where he is chair of the health care group, and major philanthropists Barbara and Donald Jonas.