Over 100 Years of Auxiliary Devotion and Service
(History compiled by Martha Masterson and coordinated by Irma Kaminsky and Flo Beichert.)
Reviewing the histories of the founding of the Benedictine Hospital in 1901 and the Benedictine Auxiliary in 1902, it is interesting to note each was founded by four women.
In 1901 Mary Malloy, a native of Kingston, became a Benedictine Nun, Sister Aloysia, and she with three other Sisters founded the Hospital.
In 1902, Sister Aloysia recognized the need for financial help from the Community. Sister selected four women to form the Ladies Auxiliary, namely Mrs. George Chandler, Mrs. J.H. Schreider, Mrs. John Howley and Miss Celia Hussey. Their mission was “To promote and advance the welfare of the Hospital, through ways approved by the Board of Directors and through service to its patients and other fundraising satisfactory to the Board”. (This is still followed today in our By-Laws.) The four women immediately plunged into fundraising and for twelve years Sister was the guiding light.
As the needs for funds grew it became obvious that large projects were needed and in 1904 the first Charity Ball was held in the Kingston Armory. This became the Easter Saturday Ball and the social event of the City. It was held in the Municipal Auditorium until 1950 and then moved to the Governor Clinton Hotel until 1971, after which the annual dances were discontinued. We also held successful summer time affairs and two special occasion celebrations. In 1977 we celebrated our 75th anniversary with the Diamond Ball at the Holiday Inn and in 1992 we celebrated our 90th Anniversary Ball at the Wiltwyck Country Club. In 1971, 1979 and 1980, the Auxilians worked with the Hospital Boards on their Annual Dances.
In 1961 the Gift Shop was first opened in a corner of he lobby of the old Center Wing. This service was to become our main source of revenue. In 1968 the Shop was enlarged and moved to the main lobby of the Spellman Pavilion. In this Spellman location nthe Auxiliary donated the floor space for the offee Shopand the Volunteer Lounge. In 1997, due to Hospital expansion the Shop was moved to its temporary location in the Sister Mary Charles Wing.
In 1964, we published our Cook Book with recipes from our members and copies are still around. In 1965, the Green Carnation sales were started and are still in operation today on a larger basis celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Local business firms and professional offices are our best customers.
The 1960s and 70s were given to purchases of equipment in all departments namely: X-rays, heart monitors, orthopedic tools and operating tables. Funds came from the first Indoor Yard Sales, special flower sales, 20-20 clubs and in 1974, the first of the large Christmas Bazaars.
In 1973, $200,000 was pledged for the mental Health Wing in the Sister Mary Charles Pavilion. In 1974 a fresh flower case was added to the Gift Shop. In 1978 we successfully operated “The Bargain Box”, a thrift shop. In 1980 the Hospital needed the house and grounds for its expansion. In 1988, $500,000 was pledged for the Birthing Place in the Sister Mary Charles Maternity Wing.
Fashion Shows were started in 1968 and were held at the Hedges Restaurant, the Mohonk Mountain House, Williams Lake, the Wiltwyck Country Club and recently at the Hillside Restaurant. In the last thirty years our annual Fashion Show Luncheon has become our largest fundraiser as we are fortunate to attract attendees, other than the Auxilians. In earlier years, annual May or June luncheons were held for members as social meetings, these along with earlier luncheons were not fundraisers.
Card parties have been a source of income for almost a century. Luncheon was included with some and all were celebrated with a theme form Apple Time to Halloween. In 1999, a new project was started, the Victorian Tea, held in the Fall at the Cordts Mansion and in 2001 at the Woodstock Country Club. A gracious affair chaired by the Auxiliary Board and Executive Committee and financed by voluntary donations.
Our Christmas Tea is a social event for our members and is combined with our annual business meeting and election of officers. Decorations are beautiful and refreshments are special. The 2001 Tea was very special as we honored the Benedictine Sisters and the found of the Hospital.
The Auxiliary isn’t all fundraising chores. Over the years our members have enjoyed participating in our annual projects, helping with seasonal decorations, especially at Christmas, and promoting Candy Striper program. In 1967 the Volunteer Department became official and Auxilians were able to volunteer in many departments of the Hospital, where their skills were utilized and appreciated.
We have been fortunate in having members who requested upon their death that memorial funds be set up for special Auxiliary projects, namely members: Helen Gruner, Margaret McCardle, Joanne Gilpatric, Ronnie Olivet and Flo O’Neil. Flo’s husband “Chic”, or Ron, has been very generous not only to the Auxiliary but to the Hospital as well in Flo’s memory.
From the late 30s to the present time we have paid all our pledges and donated needed equipment. One donation was an R2 Computer Aided Detection (CAD) System, costing $81,500 for the Fern Feldman Anolick Breast Center. And in 1996 we undertook a $150,000 pledge to the Century Building Fund.
In 2002 the Annual Victorian Tea was held on September 5th at the Mohonk Mountain House. Beautiful flower arrangements by the Auxiliary Committee were enjoyed by the members and friends attending.
The 2002 Holiday Tea and Membership Meeting on December 11th is special for us, brining our centennial celebrations to a close.
As the 100 years were reached, the Auxiliary contributed $998,000 for building funds and over $123,258 for needed equipment throughout the Hospital.
It is with sincere thanks to Sister Aloysia, Sister Bernice, Sister Mary Charles, Sister Louise Garley and Sister Mary Feehan for their prayers, guidance and faith in the Auxiliary that these memories are written.