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In the mid-1980s, as the Alfred I. duPont Institute expanded in both mission and square feet from its small orthopedic beginnings, a group of local women founded the hospital’s Auxiliary. The Auxiliary, in turn, opened and operated the hospital gift shop, where Mary Abessinio has been a dedicated volunteer ever since.
Now in the autumn of 2014, the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children has expanded again in spectacular fashion. A new store in the just-completed building – the Rocco and Mary Abessinio Gift Shop – is dressed up for the holidays, its gleaming glass frontage beckoning shoppers. The Abessinios’ decision to make a gift of $1 million to the expansion of the hospital was their way of giving back to the community and honoring families. In recognition of their generous pledge, the gift shop fittingly bears their name, since that is where Mary has dedicated thousands of hours over three decades.
Rocco Abessinio, a graduate of Salesianum School in Wilmington, the University of Delaware and Neumann University, is Chairman and CEO of Applied Bank and Roch Capital, both Delaware corporations. He started his original bank servicing company at the dining room table with his wife’s support. Mary acquired her business acumen from working in her father’s accounting practice which served many Delaware County businesses as she was growing up. Mary attended Interboro High School in Glenolden, PA and is a graduate of Goldey Beacom College. Prior to marrying Rocco, she was secretary to the head of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School.
As with many area families, the duPont Hospital for Children touched the couple’s lives: Rocco’s sister was a patient in the 1940s and the Abessinios’ daughter was briefly treated by Roy Proujansky, MD, a gastroenterologist, who is now hospital CEO.
- “We’ve seen how the hospital has grown and developed,” Rocco said. “We wanted to show our sincere appreciation for the good it has done for children and this community."
- Their focus on family also influenced their decision. “We are blessed with four healthy children and wanted to share the blessing by helping people who may not have access to high-quality medical care,” Mary said.
- Mary added that the gift shop is more than a retail space – it’s a place where families can find a friendly face. “Your heart breaks for some of the children and families. The gift shop offers a respite from their concerns.”
- In thanking the Abessinios for their gift, Dr. Proujansky said, “We are truly grateful for this transformational act of philanthropy and genuine kindness. This gift will help duPont Hospital for Children continue to improve the care and amenities we provide children and families.”