Niagara Gazette


December 3, 2012

HIGGS: The rise of Auxiliary of NFMMC


Niagara Gazette — The Board of Trustees officially recognized the volunteers in 1910 and Ann Walbridge Bowen was the first president. When Memorial reached a more stable position in 1913, they were able to hire a business manager and the auxiliary continued in a different role. Their mission became one that would provide hospital care for needy patients. Mrs. Clinton Daggett led this project and the auxiliary raised the money through charity balls, card parties, rummage sales and magazine subscriptions. It was named the Free Bed Service and continued serving the community until 1948 providing free hospital care to 419 patients.

The charity balls were held at the State Armory on Main Street in the early days charging $5 per couple and offering private “boxes” for $20. There was even a $1 viewing area for people watching for those unable to purchase a ticket. Later they moved to the Cataract House, the Prospect House, Hotel Niagara, the Parkway Inn and the Niagara Falls Country Club. The last ball was held in 1996 following a period of discontinuance during the war years.

During the war years the membership dropped to just 11 members holding only two meetings between 1941 and 1949. They regrouped under the leadership of Marian Butler who was appointed president by the Hospital’s Board of Trustees. The goal was to raise $1 million for a new maternity center, keep the Corner Shop operational and other projects. The Charity Ball resumed again in 1950, the auxiliary members began serving in the coffee shop, other popular projects such as the baby photo project were added and a scholarship fund was established. The volunteer photographers started wearing a cherry smock which was formally adopted by the auxiliary in 1955.

By 1956 membership was at a peak of 240 and once again they were asked to volunteer in the hospital business offices and other operational divisions within the hospital. Volunteer hours were recorded starting in 1958 and 1,744 hours were counted that first year. Other projects taken on by this ambitious group was the establishment of a Memorial Social Services Department. The auxiliary funded education expenses and partially paid the salary of a medical social worker. They later funded the salary of the first Director of Volunteers in 1961.

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