Why I Give: Rebecca's Story

By: Emily Najera

September 29, 2022

Rebecca Dickson pruning roses in Fianna's Healing Garden

Giving back to the community is important to Rebecca Dickson. For over 35 years, she’s been unwavering in her support of Renown Health and Reno’s non-profit community. Hearing that she’s made a difference in someone’s life feels good. But for Rebecca, the greater reward is something more personal. “Giving back is a way of life,” Rebecca said, “that’s what you do.” Inspired by her parents, the act of generosity was instilled in her from a young age.

Growing up, Rebecca remembers her mother’s thoughtful generosity with others. It was her mother, Fianna Dickson Combs, who inspired and helped plan Fianna’s Healing Garden in the heart of the Renown Regional Medical Center campus. The garden is Fianna’s legacy and gift to those in need of comforting, healing and quiet contemplation.

Walking through the garden, Rebecca points out the fountain. She talks about choosing it for its calming sound. Birds chirp on the trees overhead. The space is beautiful; it’s tranquil and comforting.

Fianna’s Healing Garden was completed in 2009. In 2020, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the garden, Rebecca and her uncle, Harvey Fennell, led an expansion project to grow the space. Inside the garden, there are pathways, benches, sculptures, fountains and over 2,000 plants and trees.

Roses are life

“The rose garden is special,” said Rebecca. It was carefully curated in honor of Fianna and her sisters to create a peaceful space for reflection. There are 21 roses of differing sizes and colors. “The roses should be experiential. The fragrance, the colors; they are life with good days and bad. Fianna was a master gardener and felt that gardens tend to the mind, body and soul,” says Rebecca.

Honoring Fianna’s Legacy

Throughout the hottest days of summer, Rebecca and her partner, David Geddes, visit the garden. They maintain the roses, removing damaged branches and pruning them. “It’s not work,” says Rebecca, “it’s a joyful opportunity that makes us feel good.”

Being in the garden reminds Rebecca of her mother and the need for healing gardens in healthcare. When her mother was in the hospital, her doctor encouraged her to get outside and into nature. At the time, Renown didn’t have an outdoor garden space. From then on, it was Fianna’s mission to create a healing garden for patients, caregivers and visitors.

Nature reduces stress and anxiety. It also provides comfort and distraction. Healing gardens offer spiritual and healing benefits, and they’ve been proven to improve health outcomes. Before Fianna passed, her plans for at healing garden at Renown were already underway.

Making an Impact

Rebecca is a lifelong philanthropist. She serves on countless boards, volunteering her time to give back to the community. She currently sits on Renown Health Foundation’s Board. Through her volunteer work, Rebecca not only gets to experience the joy of helping others first-hand, but she also gets an inside view of how non-profits operate and what they need most. That information helps her decide how to direct her support in the most impactful way.

Rebecca receives cards and phone calls thanking her for Fianna’s Healing Garden and the comfort it provides. But Rebecca insists that she’s not to thank. Rebecca remembers every person who has supported the garden.

Fianna’s Healing Garden is donor-funded, and would not be possible without the support of the community, her uncle, Harvey Fennell, Fianna’s closest friends, Renown physicians and employees, Renown Health Foundation and countless community foundations and local donors. She says, “The garden is a collaborative project. It takes a village to build and maintain, but it’s worth it!” From all of us at Renown, thank you, Rebecca, for your inspiration and dedication to Renown!

Fianna’s Healing Garden is located at Renown Regional Medical Center and is open for all to experience the healing power of nature. Click here to take a virtual tour of the garden.

Renown Health Foundation’s Why I Give series recognizes donors, volunteers, corporations, foundations and others who provide philanthropic support to Renown. We are fortunate to have generous donors whose funding helps support and expand our efforts to meet the growing needs of the communities we serve. To learn more about how you can support Renown, please email foundation@renown.org or call 775-982-5545.