Carving Out a Community
By Kathy McNeice
At Saratoga Community Health Center, we truly are a community of patients, staff, and providers. So when our team wanted to create a sculpture as a memorial to one of our staunchest supporters, the late Amy Raimo, it was only natural to turn to one of our own—patient and sculptor Mitch Mitscherlich.
Our goal was to display the sculpture in a meditation garden, a quiet space where patients could sit outside to ease their anxiety while waiting for their medical appointments. With 37 years of sculpting experience, and commissions from patrons in New York City, Montserrat, and elsewhere, Mitch was the perfect choice.
Although he never met Amy, Mitch agreed to participate in the project immediately and provided his talents and the materials free of charge.
Before her death in a tragic accident in 2018, Amy was a tireless advocate for the Community Health Center. As head of Saratoga Hospital Foundation, she raised the funds that made so many of our programs possible—and that continue to benefit our patients today.
Mitch has been a Community Health Center patient since 2016. For him, this project was a labor of love and gratitude. He drove to quarries in Vermont, found the perfect piece of marble, and in late 2019 began what he likes to call “romancing the stone.”
Then COVID-19 arrived, and Mitch realized the sculpture could serve multiple purposes. It could memorialize Amy, as originally intended. It also could pay tribute to healthcare workers—including those at the Community Health Center—for their heroic efforts during the pandemic. And the sculpture could bring comfort to anyone who has lost a loved one under any circumstances.
The finished sculpture features two gold-painted marble swans, whose beaks touch to form a heart. At the base of their necks sits a forget-me-not, Mitch’s mother’s favorite flower. The marble rests on a vertical branch representing the tree of life. All of the elements are enclosed in a black arbor-like metal archway.
Mitch created and mounted the sculpture. Another patient cleared the surrounding area and laid a path. Others have planted and weeded the nearby garden, where we grow vegetables for patients to harvest.
Each patient is contributing in their own way. Together they are helping the Community Health Center do what we do best—fostering community when and where people need it.
Kathy McNeice is the associate director of Saratoga Hospital’s Saratoga Community Health Center.