At HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital, we are honored to partner with folk/pop musician, humanitarian and Green Bay native, Kristen Graves for our latest campaign: We will be here. Kristen is the creator and voice behind the heartfelt and gentle song, “I Will Be Here” which is featured in our new advertisements now playing on a variety of media platforms across Northeast Wisconsin, including digital, radio and television.
Kristen’s talent in penning the touching lyrics to this song and matched with her powerful, melodic voice help convey what we at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital want our patients, families and communities to know: that we will always be here for you. In “I Will Be Here,” which Kristen wrote in 2012 as part of her humanitarian work with children across the world, she sings:
I will be here.
Slumber my child
Close your sweet eyes,
Sleep so soft
If you should cry, I will be here.
I will be here.
Peace my child.
Hope in each day.
Love in your world.
For you I pray. And I will be here.
When the sun shines down
When the moon’s aglow
When the rain comes falling at your door… you’ll know that I will be here.
Yes, I will be here.
I will be here, always here.
I will be here.
In our new ads created for television and digital mediums, portions of the song are paired with images of our incredible nurses, physicians, child life specialists and other providers at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital, who are doing their life’s work: caring for those who matter most to us, our patients. Featured are the spaces where we deliver the highest quality of care to children from Northeast Wisconsin, the Lakeshore and Michigan’s UP: from our emergency department to our pediatric intermediate and intensive care units, and to our Level III neonatal intensive care unit and the region’s only pediatric oncology and hematology clinic.
As Kristen’s music helps us to convey a sincere message, her humanitarian work and passion for the welfare of children is also a reflection of our own steadfast commitment to the wellbeing of kids.
A 2000 graduate from Southwest High School in Green Bay, Kristen holds a degree in music from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. where she also studied religion and business management; and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from New York University (NYU). As part of her thesis at NYU, she taught children in traditionally marginalized communities the art of songwriting and studied the impact it had on them. Her music, studies and humanitarian work have taken her all over the world including Nicaragua, Mexico and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota.
Currently, Kristen is working in Oaxaca, Mexico learning from children and families who have spent generations surviving and making their living from materials that they pull out of the square mile, open-air Municipal Garbage Dump of Oaxaca (Basurero Municipal de Oaxaca). While this current project is part of her work towards earning a PhD in
Ethnomusicology – the study of music in its social and cultural contexts – and she has known this community for over twenty years, she is still surprised by the people and the place every day.
“I’m in a garbage dump, and it’s hard work, and it’s really hot, and I catch myself smiling every few minutes, because I am constantly learning and experiencing new things,” said Kristen. “For example, today someone found an unopened bag of balloons and started blowing them up and tossing them around - everyone had the best time just bopping them back and forth to each other. Hearing laughter and teasing inside of a place that you might traditionally associate with decay and decomposition – it’s a beautiful thing to witness joy in a garbage dump.”
The inspiration behind “I Will Be Here,” which has also been recorded in Spanish, are the children Kristen has connected with throughout her humanitarian work over the years.
“There’s a connection that happens between children and an adult who shows up and is present,” she says. “At first, I’m like the fun aunt who blows in and does a few guitar riffs, but by the end of a visit – no matter how long – it’s always really hard to leave. This song aims to be a reminder for the kids. It’s a message of, ‘Hey, we’re connected now. We’re linked!’ I want them to know that even if I’m not physically present, I’m here for them – and I want to do my best to be sure they can feel and believe that.”
Kristen’s love of music emerged at a young age. Piano lessons at age 5 and high school choir evolved into a passion for singing, songwriting, live performances and tours that have put her on stages with music legends such as Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary; Harry Belafonte; Rusted Root; and the late Pete Seeger. She has created eight albums throughout her career and was listed as part of “the new generation of folk music” in the New York Times.
While success with her music and humanitarian work have taken her all over the world, Kristen never forgets her roots in Green Bay. Kristen was born at our sister hospital, HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center and throughout her childhood enjoyed time on the Fox River, football games under the Friday night lights, and frozen custard and butter burgers from iconic Green Bay restaurants.
Kristen’s love, empathy and advocacy for children, and her connection to Northeast Wisconsin make us proud to welcome her to be a part of this very special campaign for HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital.
“Knowing that this quality medical care that HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital provides is available and so close home, must be such a huge weight off the shoulders of so many families and children,” she said. “Being a part of this campaign is really special to me. I spend a lot of time with kids, and I feel like it’s been my duty to make sure there is someone showing up, amplifying their voices, and adding mine to help speak up on their behalf.”
HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital thanks Kristen for her beautiful contributions to our “We will be here” campaign, as well as our physicians, nurses and other medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to providing the best care possible to kids here within our walls. We also thank the patients and their families who have trusted us for more than a century with some of the most delicate, challenging, and triumphant times of their lives.
We are HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital – Green Bay’s first and only dedicated children’s hospital – and we will be here. Just like we always have been … and always will.