St. Vincent Morrilton Auxiliary women offer 'can-do spirit'

story and photos by Janna Virden

“I can’t imagine operating the hospital without them.”

This is the sentiment that is repeated time and again by the hospital staff and administration of St. Vincent Morrilton. They are referring to the 40 members of the St. Vincent Morrilton Hospital Auxiliary. They are like a small army dressed in happy coral colored vests or coats armed with big smiles and determined spirits all to better patient care and keep the local hospital on a course of improvement.

Delores Hartman, president of the hospital auxiliary, said that members start early in the morning by greeting people in the lobby, serving breakfast to visitors and staff in the grill, working in the Outpatient Services areas, manning the gift shop, as well as helping in specialty clinics. She has been in the auxiliary more than 12 years and president for the last seven. She said she joined because, “I like to be with people and help them. It makes you feel good to be able to help and assist someone.”

No matter which part of the hospital the auxiliary is manning, they are smiling. Gladys Mock, who has been a member for many years, started off her morning in the grill and then moved over to help in the gift shop. She smiles as she shows several of the “tray favors” she has made for patients. The favors are small gifts placed on the meal trays. The gift may be small, but it comes with a big message. Someone cares. “I want to brighten their day,” Mock said.

She also volunteers because the hospital is such a vital part of the community. “It not only makes me feel good, but it makes me feel like I am doing something to keep the hospital open.”

Members of the auxiliary volunteer more than 14,000 hours each year in the halls of the hospital. This is worth more than $290,000 in productivity. But besides their volunteer hours spent in the hospital, the auxiliary raises money for hospital improvement. They have a three-year goal to raise $90,000 to help renovate the emergency room. They met their goal last year of raising $30,000 and are well on their way to meeting it again in 2013.

Hartman said the St. Vincent Morrilton Foundation members asked if the auxiliary could raise $30,000 in a year’s time. The auxiliary had raised money in the past, but never this much. She said it was a challenge to the members, but they came through. “It was scary, but we raised the money.”

According to St. Vincent Morrilton President Bubba Arnold, the Emergency Room renovation should begin at the end of this year.

The auxiliary raised the money through two big bake sales, bean suppers, gift and holiday baskets, craft shows, jewelry and handbag sales and the proceeds from the hospital gift shop.

Upcoming fundraisers include a Beans and Cornbread Supper/Silent Auction 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, and a jewlery and handbag sale in November. The last big bake sale of the year will be Friday, Nov. 22, right before Thanksgiving.

Hartman said they almost had something every month in 2012 and this year is no different. She said it keeps the members busy, but they are ready to work hard. It’s just part of who they are as a group.

“We love helping people, and we are committed to our hospital.”