Divine Providence Hospital Auxiliary celebrates 60 years

On May 19, the Divine Providence Hospital Auxiliary held a celebration to honor all of the past presidents, both living and deceased.

With their leadership, the auxiliary has and will continue to be successful in extending their original mission of supporting healthcare in the community, hand-in-hand with the Sisters of Christian Charity.

In June 1951, the Sisters of Christian Charity saw their mission of bringing healthcare to our community materialize with the opening of Divine Providence Hospital.

In 1953, a group of local women from all walks of life came together to help the Sisters in fulfilling their mission by forming a group that could help raise funds to support the new Catholic hospital and to be part of promoting health education in the community.

On Nov. 27, 1953, this organization became known as the Divine Providence Hospital Auxiliary. Elections were held in December and the first officers were elected. Mrs. Daniel Cochran, president; Mrs. Donald Clark, vice president; Kathleen Waldeisen, secretary and Mrs. Arthur Weber, treasurer.

The first open meeting to welcome all who wanted to become part of this new healthcare focused, ambitious group was held on Jan. 7, 1954.

More than 200 ladies attended, and not only were ideas, projects and events discussed; this offered the formation of many new friendships.

As time went on and the community saw families transfer here from the New England states to work at Sylvania, Litton and Textron; the wives were welcomed into the auxiliary. They brought ideas and skills that were new to our community.

On June 14, 1954, the first fundraising event was a Lawn Fete. Homemade candy, baked goods and all types of gift items were sold and $837 was raised.

This helped to sponsor the Kings College Glee Club concert at Roosevelt Junior High School in March 1954, which netted $3,117. Dedicated to their Mission they continued to hold rummage sales, card parties and a Betty Crocker merchandise party.

This enabled the auxiliary to make their first major donation to the hospital in the amount of $15,938, which was to be used for the construction of a patient parking lot.

Funds also were used to provide puppets (called pinky puppets) to children who were treated at the hospital and all mothers who were hospitalized on mother’s day were given a corsage.

The auxiliary was instrumental in supporting the Dental Clinic which offered dental care to patients in their 50s and 60s who did not have the ability to pay for care.

This group of women continues to keep the mission alive giving support through their time, ideas and recognizing what is needed on behalf of the community as it relates to healthcare needs.

To date, Divine Providence Hospital Auxiliary has contributed $2.4 million for expansion of health care from purchasing needed equipment, furniture and other items related to keeping patients comfortable while undergoing treatment, renovations for expansion of services needed in the community and no request is too large or too small where there is a need.

As membership continued to grow so did the auxiliary events and a permanent fund raiser was established; a coffee shop in the tradition of a “diner” was opened in the basement of Divine Providence Hospital. This was a fun place to get a milkshake, cherry coke and sandwiches.

A former Candy Striper (student volunteers who wore red and white striped jumpers) commented that “the coffee shop was so much fun to take your break, and sit on a stool and being close the emergency department, many young physicians and ambulance staff were there.”

Later the coffee shop moved up to the main floor of the hospital in a much larger area. The same food items were available; however, expanded to hot sandwiches and you could get the most delicious homemade sticky buns complements of an auxiliary member.

As time moved on, the coffee shop was disbanded and it became a Gift Shop as it stands today. Run by the auxiliary, it offers everything from candy, reading materials, cards, gift items for all ages as well as cold beverages.

A weeping cherry tree, signifying friendship has been planted in front of the hospital in honor of all of the presidents.

History tells us that the Weeping Cherry Tree was sent to the United States after World War II by the Japanese as a token of friendship.

Since 1953, many friendships were established and will continue forever.

An engraved stone will be placed in front of weeping cherry the tree and it will light up during the Christmas season.