The Auxiliary to Centegra Memorial Medical Center marks sixty years of service this year, and continues to provide funding, special services and scholarships through its hard-working volunteers.
The first organizational meeting took place in March, 1945, then a planning session in May of that year was held to recruit more members from around the county. In August, the first benefit was planned and was to be held in Nov-ember of that year.
On November 3, 1945, the Women’s Auxiliary, as it was then called, held a card party and style show in the St. Mary’s Church Hall in Woodstock, and raised enough money to buy an ice machine and some new beds for Woodstock Public Hospital. The hospital would soon be re-named Memorial Hospital in honor of the World War II soldiers who had lost their lives in the war.
As the membership grew, and the needs of the hospital increased, the auxiliary grew, too, adding new services through fundraising and the establishment of its famous Holiday Hospitality Day, which was a monumental effort for decades. Other fundraisers included housewalks, dinner dances and the inevitable bake sales, and its first “gift shop,” which was a small display case in a hallway. The gift shop continues to this day, but with a wide variety of gifts, candy and magazines. The thrift shop, located next to Centegra South Street, has also been a funding source for many years.
Says Joanne Prihoda, president of the CMMC Auxiliary, “We are proud to be part of a sixty-year tradition of service. This dedicated group continues an unbroken chain of commitment to Memorial Medical Center and the people we serve.”
“In 2005, our auxiliary gave eight $1000 scholarships to community members pursuing healthcare careers We brought over 2000 schoolchildren life-saving information about poison prevention, and gave $85,000 for a CAD unit that enhances early detection of breast cancer.
“We see this journey of service as a proud heritage on which to build, and invite residents to become new members of this organization. Our history is rich with creative endeavors, personal sacrifice of time and energy and compassion. We still have members who joined in the 1950s and they are as enthusiastic and caring as ever. This is a wonderful legacy, and we thank each and every member, and all those Associates and community members who have supported our efforts.”
It was the dream of Marguerite Rawleigh of Hebron to form an auxiliary, and she was its first president. The other founding officers were: Jessie Pfeiffer, Nettie Burger and Allene Shoemaker, all of Woodstock. Women could become members for $1, and two of the most important contributions that first year were a Coca-Cola machine and a patient library. The Auxiliary has been giving ever since.
In honor of its founding months in 1945, the Auxiliary to Centegra Memorial Medical Center will celebrate its anniversary from September through November, re-capturing the time of its first fundraiser and the launching of its commendable work. Be sure to congratulate and thank any auxilians you see in the hospital or its shops. They are the embodiment of a joyful spirit.