For 100 years, St. Elizabeth’s Ladies Auxiliary has been acting as a liaison between the hospital and the community.
On June 4, the ladies of the auxiliary — some of whom have been members for more than 50 years — got together at the Humboldt and District Health Complex to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
While the group may have experienced a decline in membership in the past, president Thelma Wempe says that numbers have risen again thanks to a membership drive.
“We recently had a personal contact membership drive,” Wempe told the Journal. “Twenty-two new members joined, making a total of 67 members.”
It all began in 1911, shortly after the arrival of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth who left their convent in Austria to come and establish a hospital here in Humboldt. The Sisters lived in great poverty, and begged for money for the hospital that was completed in 1912.
At that time, the ladies of the community could see help was needed for the Sisters, so they went into action and formed the Ladies Aid of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in 1912.
In the early years the women helped the sisters by donating food items, sewing bedding and kimonos, and raising money by selling homemade raffle tickets, even though these pioneer women had very little themselves.
As more pioneers arrived, plans to enlarge the hospital got underway, and the Sisters eventually began to operate a nursing school. The Ladies Auxiliary helped with the nurses’ graduation program, dance and lunch.
Over the years the auxiliary members acted as a liaison between the hospital and the community. They helped by organizing fundraisers, by visiting the sick, by bringing flowers from their own gardens, and performing other small acts of kindness that benefited the patients in the hospital.
The St. Elizabeth Ladies Auxiliary also established a number of monetary gifts or scholarships that are awarded annually in the community. These include a gift each year for the first-born in Humboldt, a $200 scholarship to a high school graduate entering studies in the health field, and a $100 memorial donation to the Humboldt and District Hospital Foundation at the passing of a member.
Today, the ladies’ auxiliary still puts on events to raise funds for the hospital foundation. Some of their key fundraisers are an annual raffle, a pie and coffee social during February’s heart month, a Souvlaki fundraiser in May, a city-wide chocolate drive in September, and a bake sale, basket raffle and 50/50 draw at the mall in December.
For their 100th anniversary project, the ladies are setting up a $100 endowment fund for cardiac care, to be called St. Elizabeth’s Ladies Auxiliary Centennial Cardiac Endowment.
According to Wempe, the ladies have also racked up a few memorable milestone figures in the last year or two.
“We raised $13,859 last year for Cardiac care,” said Wempe. “We purchased two Holter monitors for $7,433. And we had 4,910 volunteer hours.”
The St. Elizabeth’s Ladies Auxiliary meets six times a year on the first Tuesday of every second month, and welcomes any new members who would like to join.
With files from Alice Germann and Anne Niebrugge