Growing up in the South Bay, Hilary Zachry spent a lot of time at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. She had a rare respiratory disease and was in and out of the hospital for treatment between the ages of 6 and 12.
“It was a terrible time, but [I was touched by] the care and commitment of the physicians,” Hilary recalls. “I have so many memories of just having great experiences with the health care professionals at Torrance Memorial decades ago.”
When she got older, Hilary went off to school at Baylor University in Texas, where she was to meet her future husband, Clay Zachry. They were introduced by a mutual friend and dated through most of college. After graduation, both moved to Redondo Beach.
“I followed a girl here,” Clay says with a laugh. “I’m married to her now, so it worked out.”
The pair were married three years later and now have two children, Paige, 11, and Graham, 8. Clay works as a Certified Financial PlannerTM for Harris Financial Advisors, and Hilary is involved in sales for a pharmaceutical group. They are both committed to being advocates for Torrance Memorial and supporting the hospital’s mission of providing quality care to the community.
Hilary, who has had a lifelong love of dogs, has been involved in Torrance Memorial’s pet visitation program for eight years, along with her cockapoo, Annie, a rescue dog who was found on the 405 freeway in Long Beach.
“She is just the calmest, sweetest, most affectionate, easygoing dog,” Hilary says of Annie. “Even when she was younger, she was never wild. She’s just always been this old soul who wanted to be around people and wanted to be soothing for people. And we’ve made so many great connections with people over the years at Torrance Memorial.”
Hilary and Annie go to the hospital regularly on weekends to visit patients. They always enjoy brightening someone’s day with their visits, although a few patients in particular stick out in Hilary’s mind as people with whom they made an extra-special connection. One she remembers was a little girl who had been badly burned in a microwave accident at home. Although Hilary and Annie don’t generally visit the burn unit, it just so happened that the little girl was sitting out in one of the waiting areas with her mom just as Hilary and Annie were passing by.
“I stopped to talk to them,” Hilary recalls, “and the little girl was petting Annie, and it turned into me sitting down with them and just spending all my time with this one patient that day. I was getting up to go and I’ll never forget her mom looked at me crying, and she said, ‘She’s been so upset and she’s been so sad to be here away from her friends. She has a long hospital stay ahead of her, and you have no idea what this visit has meant to us.’ It was really just a beautiful moment.”
While Hilary volunteers with patients inside the hospital, Clay has become involved recruiting young professionals from the community to join the Young Physicians and Professionals Alliance (YPPA).
YPPA is a social group organized around raising awareness of the hospital’s services, as well as alerting the community to particular needs the hospital has and ways people can help to meet those needs.
Clay and Dr. James McKinnell serve as co-chairs of the group. Together with the executive committee, they work to recruit new members and organize social activities for physicians and professionals to get to know each other and have fun while simultaneously supporting the hospital. Each member makes a $500 donation to Torrance Memorial, and the group also hosts an annual Casino Night, which involves gaming tables, a silent auction and activities that help raise money for the hospital. They have other meetings throughout the year that involve everything from beer tasting to dance lessons. Currently YPPA has about 100 members, but Clay also wants to increase the membership.
“We want to have about 150 members—committed individuals who are really there to support the hospital and raise awareness for the hospital and all the things offered there,” he says. “Our goal is to raise money, but we want to have a lot of fun along the way.”
For the Zachrys, being advocates and volunteers for Torrance Memorial has been one of the highlights of living in the South Bay. Thanks to Hilary’s positive experiences there as a child, they plan to be involved for years to come.
“We had really great care there,” Hilary says. “My parents still talk about it to this day.”
For more information about how to join YPPA, visit torrancememorial.org/YPPA or contact Sophia Neveu at 310-257-7266.
Written by Tabitha Hogue
Photographed by Kristin Anderson