Blessed with the birth of four 9-pound children more than two decades ago,
with the youngest now finishing college, it would be reasonable to expect
that Kim and John Whitcombe’s thoughts and energy would shift toward
typical empty-nester pursuits, such as travel or a home remodeling project.
But upon learning of an opportunity to help new, local parents bond with
their hospitalized infants when they cannot be at the bedside, the couple
immediately stepped up to offer their support.
“We have been so blessed with healthy kids,” John says. “Not
everyone is so fortunate. Our philosophy has always been to look at what
other people don’t have and ask, ‘What can we do?’”
The Torrance Memorial Foundation recently accepted a donation from the
Oarsmen Foundation, a private foundation founded by Kim’s parents,
to fund the purchase of 23 Panasonic NICVIEW Camera Systems. Each system
will provide an individual camera, which when mounted over NICU incubators
in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), will al- low parents to watch
their babies 24/7 from any location that has an internet connection with
a computer, tablet or smart phone. Parents are provided a user name and
password to share the viewing experience with other family members at
“Often infants will stay in our NICU for prolonged periods of time
and parents have to go back to work, care for other children or may live
a distance from the hospital,” says Elizabeth Lowerison, RN, nurse
manager, NICU/Pediat- rics. “The NICVIEW Camera System will allow
families more peace of mind by being able to see in real time that their
infant is well and being provided with excellent care.”
She continues, “The cameras will assist parents, siblings and relatives
to remain as close to their newborn as possible, by watching their daily
activities and progress.”
Through the past decade, the Oarsmen Foundation has routinely made donations
to the Torrance Memorial Foundation. But after a recent surgery and overnight
stay by Kim’s mom, the family began looking for additional areas
to help. John’s mom, Jo Whitcombe, had already spent decades giving
to Torrance Memo- rial as a 30-year Auxiliary member. Her primary role
was working in the Gift Shop, helping to select the merchandise to sell
and raise funds for the Foundation.
“My mom had such great care (at Torrance Memorial) and my dad spent
the night (in the room with her), so when she left, we really wanted to
contribute,” Kim says. “My family has always had a heart for
babies and kids. Since I was a little girl we have been doing things to
help local health care.”
Kim was born at Torrance Memorial when it was at its original Old Torrance
location on Engracia Avenue. She grew up in Palos Verdes Estates. Fifteen
years ago, her parents George and Dee Schuler founded the Oarsmen Foun-
dation with their children with the mission of “rowing together
to do great things for the world through Christ.” Through the years,
the foundation has worked to support churches, children, education and
health, with Kim at the helm as its president.
John, whose dad was a physicist for the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo,
was also born at the original Torrance Memorial and grew up in Manhattan
Beach. The two met when Kim was showing space at a strip mall while working
post-college for her dad’s Torrance development company. At the time,
John owned a business that manufactured and sold satellite dishes and was
looking for space to rent as a retail outlet.
“I paid over-market price and there were no improvements made on
the property, but I thought she was really cute,” John says in jest.
“We haven’t been apart since.”
John later returned to school to earn his law degree and a Master of Business
Administration. After working for several mid-size law firms, John joined
Greenberg, Whitcombe, Takeuchi, Gibson and Grayver, LLP, 22 years ago
as a partner. The firm represents a number of large public companies,
such as Toys “R” Us, Airgas and Air Liquide, as well as many
South Bay residents in business and real estate matters.
Since their marriage, both have taken on numerous additional philanthropic
pursuits. Kim has served on the board of Peninsula Committee for Children’s
Hospital (PCCH), which organizes and sponsors the annual Portu- guese
Bend International Horse Show at Ernie Howlett Park and the Seahorse Classic
Golf Tournament at Palos Verdes Golf Club.
She also used skills learned while earning her Bachelor of Science degree
in interior architecture at the University of Oregon to help Rolling Hills
Covenant Church with recent expansion projects. One of these projects
was expanding the “Beacon of Light” men’s shelter in
Wilmington, by assisting in the development of the neighboring site into
the “Doors of Hope” women’s shelter.
John is a founding board member for the Torrance Police Foundation, a newly
formed 501c3 that raises money for law enforce- ment equipment. The foundation
recently purchased in-vehicle defibrillators that treat cardiac arrest
and drone cameras used in crime scene investigations.
The Whitcombes have also encouraged their children to participate in these
endeavors, to instill in them the meaning of hard work and giving back.
They hope this latest gift inspires others to support local health care.
“We really want this to be a community that attracts and supports
the absolute best health care you can get,” John says. “If
you’re penny wise and pound foolish with your local hospital, you’re
not going to get a lot back from it when you need it.”
He continues, “We are basically living the dream and we are constantly
pinching ourselves. How can we not do something to help?”