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Auxiliary Historical Highlights

SoutheastHEALTH Auxiliary 75th Anniversary emblem
Volunteers Through The Years


The Founding

Shortly after Southeast Hospital opened its doors in 1928, it became evident to the first administrator, Theresia Norberg, that volunteer help not only would be beneficial but necessary.  According to Hospital historical records, Superintendent Norberg was eager for a formal Auxiliary to be established at the Hospital, pointing out “the splendid contact between the Hospital and the community” such an association could produce.

Through contact with area churches and civic groups, she urged their female members to conduct fund-raising activities for Southeast and to make and donate supplies which they did for about six years until Southeast’s first Auxiliary was organized on November 23, 1937, with Mrs. D.H. Hope as President.

Minutes note that the Auxiliary was established with the “purpose to foster good will toward the hospital, to aid it financially and otherwise, and to interest many women to become members who would lend their moral, physical and financial support for the benefit of the mother institution.”  Because there was no meeting space at the Hospital, the group met monthly at the First Presbyterian Church where Mrs. Hope was a member.  During World War II years, Auxiliary meetings became infrequent, and the last meeting recorded was April 24, 1947.

In 1958, at the written invitation of Southeast Administrator Herbert S. Wright, “wives of Southeast Hospital Association members or women who have Association membership in their own name” were asked to attend a meeting to plan “the organization of a ladies volunteer group to improve and extend the services of Southeast Hospital.”  Mr. Wright noted in his letter that some of the volunteer services would need to be rendered in the Hospital itself, but others would be of such nature as could be done at home in leisure moments.”

As a result, the Southeast Hospital Auxiliary was reorganized on March 18, 1958, with Mrs. Chris Stiver (Gladys) as President.  The first Recording Secretary of the Auxiliary was Anne Limbaugh, who later founded the Meals on Wheels program.  Two of the Auxiliary’s present-day members with the longest, continuous records of service are Edna Ruth Fischer and Jane Grimm who joined in 1959.  Edna Ruth recalls being asked to join by Mrs. Stiver.  When Edna Ruth responded, “I have young children at home and can’t volunteer at the Hospital right now,” Mrs. Stiver’s immediate response was, “If you can’t donate your time, just donate your dollar (for dues) but I’ll probably find something for you to do at home.”

Auxiliary Purpose Today

The purpose of the Auxiliary shall be to render service to SoutheastHEALTH and its patients through ways approved by the Board of Trustees of the Hospital; to assist the Hospital in promoting the health and welfare of the community in accordance with its objectives; and cooperate with the Department of Volunteer Services by helping with the supply and recruitment of in-service Volunteers.

Auxiliary Historical Highlights

  • An Auxiliary newsletter was first published in August 1960.
  • Cherry-colored smocks were first worn by our Volunteers in 1961.
  • Linens for patient rooms and surgery were made by the Auxiliary Sewing Committee from the 1930s to the early 1960s.
  • As soon as Southeast’s Auxiliary was reorganized and functioning in 1958, there was a Landscape Committee (later renamed the Beautification Committee).  The original members in 1958 were veteran, award-winning gardeners, and they included Mrs. Stiver herself (Author of a book All about Gardening), Mrs. T.G. Harris, Mrs. Edward Roberts, Mrs. B.A. Walther, Mrs. Burton J. Gerhardt and Miss Ione Hirsch.  For years they maintained the Hospital grounds and gardens and provided interior floral touches.  In 1961, under that committee’s direction, the Auxiliary built a greenhouse that was located behind the Hospital.  The greenhouse was to provide flowers and plants for the inside boxes and niches and bedding plants for the Hospital grounds.
  • The Auxiliary began operating a Snack Bar in the Hospital around 1960 and continued doing so as a major fundraiser until July 1996, a month before the opening of Lacey’s on the Hill restaurant.
  • In 1961, books from the Cape Public Library began to be delivered to the Hospital monthly for patient use.  Library Director Gene Martin provided this service himself.
  • In the 1960s, crafts and gift items began to be sold in the Snack Bar; and for years, the Auxiliary operated a combined Snack Bar and Gift Shop on the Hospital’s second floor.  The Auxiliary’s major source of revenue today (in 2012) is the Gift Shop which opened in its present location on August 5, 1996.  In 2001, through a contest at the Hospital, the Gift Shop was named “The Wishing Well.”
  • As early as 1962 and through 1988, the Auxiliary has been awarding one or several nursing scholarships a year.  From 1988 through 2012, the Auxiliary has awarded 168 scholarships amounting to $173,000 to students pursuing healthcare careers.  As of 2012, there are six endowed scholarships in the Auxiliary Endowment Fund.  The Auxiliary has also established two named scholarships that are being awarded annually.
  • The Flea Market and Bazaar, a major Auxiliary fundraising event for 26 years began just as a Bazaar in 1961 and was held at Cape Paint and Glass Company with a profit of $420.  In 1962 and 1963, the Auxiliary Bazaar was held at Centenary Methodist Church with a net profit each year of over $2,000.  At the suggestion of Pauline “Drucie” Strom, Auxiliary President from 1964–66, the event became a Flea Market and Bazaar and relocated to the Arena Building where it remained until 1987.  From 1964 to 1987, that event raised over $175,000 for the benefit of the Hospital, and it was thanks to hours of service by hundreds of volunteers and community members, young and old.  The Southeast Missourian often referred to the event as “the bargain day of the year” or “Cape’s best sale.”  Though several different Auxilians chaired the event, it was the 15-year commitment and tireless efforts of co-chairs Mildred Mueller, Elda Haertling and Marietta Logan that grew the event into the success it became.
  • The first tours of the Hospital were organized by the Auxiliary beginning in 1968 under the direction of Auxilian Libby Oliver.  For years, the tours scheduled by Mrs. Oliver from her home, were led by Volunteers.
  • In 1973–74 men began to join Southeast’s Volunteer program, a trend that began nationally in American hospitals in 1969.
  • Cape’s first home meal delivery program, Meals on Wheels, was a community service established and coordinated by Southeast’s Auxiliary through the founding efforts of Auxilians Anne Limbaugh, Libby Oliver and Kay Newman and with the ongoing support of the Cape County Area Medical Society Alliance and dozens of local churches.  It was operational from January 7, 1974 through December 30, 2011.  At the height of Meals on Wheels operations, there were seven routes delivering hot noon meals to over 100 Cape residents a day who qualified for the service, but in the program’s final year there were as few as 20 meal deliveries a day.  Need for this service was being met in so many other ways that the decision was made by the Auxiliary and Hospital Administration to phase out Meals on Wheels.
  • Hair Care Services began as an Auxiliary program for patients in 1978.  Volunteers offered hair care for both women and men until just a few years ago when space was no longer available.
  • Life Memberships became a dues-paying option in 1979-80.  Instead of paying annual dues, many Auxilians have chosen to make a one-time donation of $100.  In 2012, there are 86 Life Members.
  • The first Director of Volunteer Services at Southeast was hired in 1980.  Carolyn Turner was the founding Director, and her duties included “scheduling Volunteers for their shifts (previously done by Auxiliary officers); serving as the Auxiliary’s liaison with Hospital administration and staff, writing policies and procedures and job descriptions for each Volunteer area of service; planning and carrying out training programs for new Volunteers.”
  • Southeast’s Junior Volunteer Program began the summer of 1981.
  • The first time a Volunteer reached 5,000 Hours of Recorded Service was in 1984, and it was achieved by Marguritte Wright.
  • The Hospice Volunteer Program, Southeast’s much appreciated patient and family services devoted to end-of-life care, began in 1986.
  • The Friendly Visitor Volunteer Program (now known as the Hospitality Cart) began in 1988 under the chairmanship of Auxilian Jane Grimm.  The program was designed to improve patient relations through personal calls at the bedside and thoughtful touches.
  • During the decade of 1980–1990, the Southeast Auxiliary achieved its highest level of donations to the Hospital, in any decade, with a grand total of $830,312.  The decade began with completion of a $100,000 pledge to help build Southeast’s first Cancer Center.  Other financial gifts in the 1980s helped with startup costs for the Hospital’s open heart surgery program and with medical equipment acquisitions, furnishings, decorations, and renovations.  Then in 1991, the Auxiliary donated $50,000 to help start a School of Nursing and in 1992 pledged $100,000 to the campaign for a Clinical Services Building.  This pledge was paid in full by 1994.
  • In 1994, the Auxiliary and the Hospital Board’s Beautification Committee, in cooperation with the Southeast Missouri Council on the Arts, began “Art for the Health of It,” a program that features a rotating art exhibit hung in gallery-style on the first floor outside the Surgical Waiting Room.  Still in existence at the Hospital, the project is based on the theory that the arts can enhance the quality of life for patients, families and visitors by nourishing a part of us that medicine and surgery alone cannot touch.
  • In 1999, the Auxiliary began its support of the Building Blocks Program which Southeast Home Health continues to offer free to first-time, low-income mothers in Missouri.  It is affiliated with the National Nurse-Family Partnership.  SoutheastHEALTH is one of three Building Blocks sites in the state of Missouri.  The program currently employs six nurses and serves 125 clients, ages 12 to 41, in nine southeast Missouri counties.  As the state’s only rural Building Blocks provider, the program is expanding to cover two additional counties sometime in 2012.  Southeast Auxiliary purchases educational materials for the program’s clients and donates handmade baby quilts as well as cloth books for the clients' children.
  • A unique and successful donation of time and talents by Auxilian Wenona Harrison, resulted in beautiful flower arrangements for the Gift Shop to sell and a profit of over $42,000 for the Auxiliary.  From 1985–2000, she gathered a variety of flowers, especially roses, from her abundant gardens and turned them into affordable, lovely arrangements for Hospital visitors and employees to purchase in the Gift Shop.  Her first year, she created about 200 arrangements, but the number soon increased to over 500 a year.  Volunteers and employees donated vases and containers, and Auxiliary friend Hazel Eaves helped transport the arrangements from Wenona’s home to the Gift Shop.  Wenona’s “flower power” exemplifies the difference one volunteer can make.  She did not begin with a goal of $42,000, but one bouquet at a time she made a significant contribution to the Auxiliary.
  • Fundraising is not the only generous contribution Volunteers can make.  Beginning in 2001, Anna Mae Rigdon began to share her talent for knitting with Hospital patients and as of August 2012, has donated 11,804 hours of her time and talent handcrafting several thousand baby caps and hundreds of SHARE blankets for infants who do not survive birth.  From the comfort of her home, Anna Mae creates her unique gift of service to the Auxiliary for the benefit of those the Hospital serves.
  • The Auxiliary’s Volunteer program extends beyond Cape Girardeau into Dexter, Missouri thanks to the unique contribution of Madeleine Yvette Launius who volunteers in Southeast’s satellite Cardiac Rehabilitation program in Dexter where she lives.  She volunteers there several hours a day, three to four days a week.  In 2003 Madeleine suffered a heart attack and was admitted to Southeast.  She went through the Hospital’s Cardiac Rehab program and has been dedicated ever since to helping others regain their heart health.  Our first outreach Volunteer, to date, has donated 6,933 hours of her time.
  • In 2005, the Auxiliary achieved another financial record with its successful “Designer ShowHouse of Ideas.”  A modest goal of $5,000 had been set for the event, but the result was a net profit of $20,466.05!  More than 200 Volunteers actively contributed in making the 11-day event a success, and 1,347 guests toured the ShowHouse.  The proceeds helped Southeast purchase an amazing educational tool, the computerized patient simulator Sim Man.  Not only did the Auxiliary achieve financial success, but another objective was accomplished and that was to raise the visibility of the Auxiliary as a vital and motivated organization.
  • The Auxiliary’s newest fundraising event Drop It "Fore" a Cause, in cooperation with the SoutheastHEALTH Foundation, was first held in 2011 and resulted in a donation of $10,500 to SoutheastHEALTH to help fund the garden project at Southeast’s new Cancer Center.  For the second year, the dropping of golf balls from a helicopter will happen over a designated green at Bent Creek Golf Course where the crowd will enjoy that sight, a meal and music.  Each golf ball is numbered to correspond with the number of each ticket sold, and winning tickets will be those closest to the hole.  When the event is held in October 2012 proceeds will be designated for Southeast’s Cancer Program for screenings.
  • Southeast’s Auxiliary, through generous donations to capital campaigns and fund drives of the SoutheastHEALTH Foundation, has achieved the highest level of giving in the Foundation’s Million Dollar Club as a Diamond Arrow Partner.