GMercyU Receives Seven-Figure Gift from The Regina Charitable Fund

Frances Cannata Stimmler '66 (third from right), at the ground-breaking of the Frances M. Maguire Healthcare Innovation Center.
In June 2023, GMercyU received a $2 million grant from the Regina Charitable Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation to support the Frances Cannata Stimmler '66 and Joseph Stimmler Inspiration Station in the Frances M. Maguire Healthcare Innovation Center.

The Frances Cannata Stimmler ’66 and Joseph Stimmler Inspiration Station will serve as a flexible, multi-functioning space within the Center and include state-of-the-market technology and interdisciplinary offerings that bring students together from across programs and majors within Nursing and other related fields.

This space will also be used for large-scale simulation experiences where GMercyU partners with community healthcare, emergency management, and other municipal services for emergency preparedness drills and host seminars and speakers.

The grant was made in honor of Frances Cannata Stimmler ’66 and the late Joseph Stimmler to carry on their legacy of compassionate, patient-centered healthcare to a new generation of healthcare professionals.

You have to give back. Gwynedd Mercy [University] did so much for me including providing me with a full scholarship. 

—Frances Cannata Stimmler '66

Carrying on a Legacy of Compassionate and Patient-Centered Care

GMercyU Nursing alumna Frances Cannata Stimmler '66, along with two former Sisters of the Poor, established the Regina Nursing Center in 1963 with the goal of providing superior care to the elderly and the physically challenged. The first facility opened at a home on Thomas Avenue in Philadelphia and another facility opened a few years later on Vine Street in Philadelphia. 

Wanting to better oversee the care the residents were receiving, Fran decided to pursue a degree in Nursing and graduated in 1966 from then Gwynedd-Mercy College. She would go on to use that degree to become the Head Nurse and later the Administrator of the facilities. 

In 1973, Fran met Joe Stimmler, who not only brought a financial background to the homes, but became her husband. Together, they oversaw the facilities and in 1980 opened a brand-new facility in Norristown, closing the Thomas Avenue facility. 

Around 2002, the Vine Street facility closed which left only the Norristown location. This facility would become the standard for nursing care in Montgomery County. Under Fran and Joe’s leadership, the nursing home donated food boxes on the holidays, helped decorate local churches, and held a yearly bazaar for the neighborhood, residents and their families. This became one of the most well-attended events in Norristown every year. 

The Regina Nursing Center was founded with the belief that no matter the situation, the people under their care would be treated as family. It didn’t matter whether they were rich or poor, everyone would be treated with the utmost respect and care. 

What made The Regina Nursing Center stand out from the rest of the nursing homes in the area was that not only were the residents treated like family, but Fran and Joe treated every employee like family. As employees left work each day, Fran and Joe thanked each personally. 

In April 2020, Joe passed away suddenly, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc. With the loss of Joe’s leadership and not having a proper successor to carry on, Fran and the Center’s Board of Trustees made the decision to sell the nursing home and start The Regina Charitable Fund at the Philadelphia Foundation. Fran continued leading this fund but chose a new Board of Trustees to help her carry on the mission she started 60 years ago. 

Under Fran’s leadership, grants were made various institutions, including colleges and food banks. The schools were given funds to award scholarships to students in the medical fields with the hope that those recipients would use those degrees to help carry out the mission of The Regina Nursing Center. 

The largest grant was awarded to Gwynedd Mercy University, Fran’s alma mater, whose $2 million commitment established the Frances Cannata Stimmler '66 and Joseph Stimmler Inspiration Station within the Frances M. Maguire Healthcare Innovation Center.

The Regina Charitable Fund also granted GMercyU $300,000 in Spring 2022 to establish the Frances Cannata Stimmler ’66 and Joseph Stimmler Endowed Scholarship for Nursing. The scholarship supports GMercyU Nursing students with financial need and a preference for students who have an interest in gerontology or working with older populations, aligned with the mission of The Regina Community Nursing Center.

“You have to give back,” Fran commented. “Gwynedd Mercy [University] did so much for me including providing me with a full scholarship.”

"The Regina Charitable Fund's $2,300,000 support of Nursing and Health Professions at Gwynedd Mercy University represents a remarkable commitment to our students and overall vision to be the Catholic University leader in professional and healthcare education," GMercyU President Deanne H. D'Emilio, JD said.

The creation of the Frances M. Maguire Healthcare Innovation Campus will extend GMercyU’s nationally recognized leadership in healthcare education and long history of preparing compassionate, capable healthcare professionals.

About the Mercy in Motion Campaign

The Mercy in Motion Campaign fosters an ambitious vision to expand our reputation for preparing professionals who can navigate a changing world and make that world a better place. Driven by three strategic goals — fuel healthcare innovation, invest in student success, and sustain our mission — the campaign elevates GMercyU’s commitment to fostering positive, global change through higher education firmly rooted in Mercy.

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GMercyU sealWhy I Give: Christine Barrasso '65
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