There’s a bit of surprise in the way Bob Rechnitz responds, as though the question just isn’t deserved.
When asked why he and his wife, Joan, chose to donate $5 million towards the construction of a new facility at Riverview Medical Center, Rechnitz plays it like the answer is an obvious one.
For this couple, the same who founded Two River Theater and turned it over to the public, the same couple who continue to make their home in Red Bank, it’s not a question of why, but rather, why not?
“It’s a local hospital,” he said. “Our children were born there. When we need help we go there. And, I imagine my final days will be spent there.”
When you're this invested in the community, some good deeds seem more like welcome obligations, where giving back becomes a responsibility.
Riverview announced the donation Monday morning via release. The $5 million will be used to help fund construction on the new center for surgical excellence, which will include two sophisticated specialty surgical suites, a renovated post-anesthesia care area, and a state-of-the-art conference and educational center, among other things.
The donation is one of the largest in the hospital’s history.
Tim Hogan, hospital president, said the Rechnitzs have been friends of the hospital for years. When the possibility of giving the gift came up in discussions with the hospital, both Bob and Joan expressed their interest in helping fund educational resources at the new center.
In addition to the education facility, which will host seminars, lectures, and symposiums, being named for the Rechnitzs, a condition of the gift is that the center also host events available to the public.
Hogan said he hopes the donation helps generate more public awareness for the hospital and its goals.
“A hospital will not be successful,” Hogan said. “Unless it has the support of the community. The problem is, very few of us think about healthcare until we’re standing at the doors of the hospital.”
Keeping the donation anonymous was a consideration, but Hogan said he believes that name recognition could help generate, if not more donations, than at least more consideration from the community.
Seeing the Rechnitz name, Hogan said, may even prove to be an inspiration to some.
“In tough economic times it’s even more of a necessity to get the word out as to how important it is to upkeep, to maintain a high level of care,” he said.
Following the announcement of the donation and its $5 million, Rechnitz was more excited to talk about the Two River Theater Company, where he still serves in the position of executive producer, and how it’s positioning itself to be one of the top theaters in the country.
Currently, he said when asked what makes Red Bank so special, the theater is hiring for a new position. The young people he’s helped interview all say the same things about the borough. It’s beautiful, full of culture, and diversity.
“They go crazy for it,” the 80 year old said. “All those things they mention are what makes this town wonderful to us.”