A long history of hospital support
In 1942, a number of women came together to sew sheets for the beds at Cape Cod Hospital. At that time, the hospital was a large white house, formerly owned by Dr. G. F. Gleason.
The group, known initially, as the Friends of Cape Cod Hospital and later, the Cape Cod Hospital Aid Association, decided they wanted to do more and began raising money to support the hospital, according to Dottie Hurley, president of the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary.
While the Cape Cod Hospital Aid Association became the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary over the years, the focus of the organization, which was to raise money for the hospital, has not changed. Today, more than 320 auxilians fundraise to help purchase equipment and provide financial support to meet the needs of the growing hospital that now houses the latest in technological and medical advances.
“The Auxiliary has been invaluable to the hospital it serves. Since 1953, the group has raised $8.2 million that has gone directly to improve patient care and services,” Hurley said.
“The monetary gifts from the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary speak volumes of their dedication to community and our patients at the hospital,” said Nancy Leanues, Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation Auxiliary Liaison.
On October 24, the Auxiliary will officially celebrate its 75th Anniversary with a luncheon and annual meeting at the Wequassett Inn in Harwich.
“The celebration will be for the entire auxiliary,” said Hurley.
A Rich History
The organization’s monetary gifts go back even further than 1953. When it was known as the Cape Cod Hospital Aid Association, the volunteers opened a hospital coffee shop, gift shop, provided a newborn photography service, opened the Cape Cod Hospital Thrift Shop and published a newspaper highlighting the activities of the six branches, all between 1950 and 1951, according to stories in the Falmouth Enterprise.
The branches at that time were Chatham, Harwich, Orleans-Eastham, South Yarmouth-Bass River, Yarmouth and Barnstable. And volunteers from all the branches worked in the three shops.
Their creativity knew no boundaries.
The Yarmouth branch came up with the idea to publish a cookbook in 1949, titled, “Cape Cod Kitchen Secrets.” The cookbook had four editions and sold more than 18,000 copies, netting more than $6,000 by 1955, according to the Falmouth Enterprise.
The Auxiliary today is composed of four branches, Chatham-Harwich, Barnstable, Orleans and the Cape Cod Hospital Thrift Shop.
The volunteers continue to be as creative as their predecessors with their fundraising efforts.
“Each branch also holds its own fundraisers every year,” said Hurley.
The different branches host golf tournaments, card parties, wine tastings, a Holly Berry Fair in Orleans every other year, and dinner/auction events.
“They raise funds dollar by dollar, while spreading the good news about Cape Cod Hospital,” said Hurley.
Other fundraisers include sales of holiday greens, gift baskets, pies, a chocolate extravaganza in February, and raffles, all in the Mugar Lobby of the hospital.
“The employees, especially, enjoy the sales,” said Leanues.
The Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop at 690 Main Street in Hyannis is a good spot that draws the public to shop. Hurley volunteers there every other Friday. She said she enjoys helping out and is amazed at how fast the clothing and household goods go out the door.
“I brought a box of items to the shop a friend had given me,” said Hurley. “I was working the cash register and by the end of the day, my friend’s items had all sold.”
While auxilians are creative with fundraising events, they also take time to make gifts. The Barnstable Branch makes hats for all the newborns at the hospital. The Orleans Branch designs and sews hand puppets to give to children in the Emergency Center, Pediatrics, and other departments. The Chatham-Harwich Branch makes comfort pillows for surgical heart patients.
A Look to the Future
Hurley’s term as president will come to an end at the Oct. 24 Annual Meeting and Celebration, and she will pass the baton to another auxilian, who will be voted in at the Annual Meeting.
“It’s a bittersweet time. I will miss being president,” said Hurley. “It has been the greatest experience of my life, other than being married, having my children and being a grandmother.”
“The biggest issue the organization now faces is recruitment of new members,” Hurley said. “While the people who are involved are very dedicated and will continue fundraising, we will need to recruit new members to keep running the organization,” she said.
To sign up or learn more about the Auxiliary, please visit their website: capecodhospitalauxiliary.org.
[Featured Photo: Members of the Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary visited the Cape Cod Hospital Emergency Room in the Spring of 2016 to view the Emergency Room’s newly opened Diagnostic Suite. Their pledge of $650,000 helped to fund this Diagnostic suite as well as the CT and X-Ray procedure rooms.]