For nearly 120 years, ladies have been raising money to buy much-appreciated items for Maple Creek hospital, providing comfort and entertainment. They may have done their good work under different group names down the years, but their intentions have remained unchanged.
Now dwindling membership of the Auxiliary to the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility has put a question mark over the future of this proud tradition.
With only 10 paid members, who are getting on in years, the group hopes to recruit younger people to keep it going.
“We are putting out requests to some of the younger ladies of the community to join us at our next meeting at the Senior’s Centre on June 18 at 2pm,” said Marlene Anhorn, auxiliary treasurer.
“We continue to wear our masks and we are not allowed to have lunch and coffee – we are hoping this will change soon, when we would go back to having monthly meetings with a potluck lunch in June and in January memberships are $10 per year.”
Anhorn urged younger ladies to step forward.
“Even though we are small in numbers, we are still big at heart and try to keep providing comfort and entertainment to the residents and patients as best we can, once the pandemic ends.”
The auxiliary has a rich history.
The Maple Creek Hospital Auxiliary was formed in 1903-04 and Women’s Auxiliary to the Cypress Lodge was formed in 1965. When it became clear that Maple Creek would be having a new hospital/lodge facility, the two auxiliaries amalgamated in 2009.
The group continued to provide extras for those in long-term care by buying items the Health Region did not budget for, such as TVs, wheelchairs, a pressure mattress, bed tables and a Broda chair.
• Marlene Anhorn has written about the auxiliary in an article published in today’s Maple Creek News.
By Marlene Anhorn
Since last year when COVID-19 started, so many things have changed! We used to have monthly meetings followed by coffee, tea and a lunch, but then we never had a meeting until November – wearing our masks and no lunch allowed. In November, we met to try to decide what we could buy for the residents at long-term care for Christmas. We usually purchase one big gift for everyone’s benefit. The first year they were there we bought a Christmas tree for each house, then an electric organ, a popcorn maker on a stand and this year the activity workers suggested we buy a Margarita maker – the residents enjoyed having the non-alcohol Margaritas.
Then we usually buy a smaller gift for each individual – a box of chocolates and a rose bowl for those who could not have chocolates. One year one of our members knitted coverings for clothes hangers, so each resident received some hangers.
Other activities that we could not have this year were the Christmas party, the Mother’s Day Tea and our two bake sales. On the third Monday of each month we would go to have bingo with the residents, bring a snack and serve coffee, tea and juice after bingo.
Before COVID-19, the activity workers could take some of the residents on outings to the park, or to Caroline’s for ice cream or for pie at the United Church pie social, or even for a beer at Jack’s, The auxiliary would give the money to the workers to pay for these outings. Residents and staff are looking forward to being able to do this again.
Now I would like to share a bit of history of the Auxiliary.
Mrs William Pollock came to Maple Creek as a young bride in 1901. She saw a need for a hospital, so by 1903 she had drawn many ladies of the district into an enthusiastic circle in the newly incorporated town.
By 1904 plans were under way to raise money by public subscription to provide a general hospital. The organization of women formed at the time was the forerunner of our present Auxiliary.
The newly formed “Ladies Aid”, some were board members, supplied many things needed for the first hospital – as the years went by, hospital needs increased and the aims of the ladies became more ambitious.
The “Ladies Aid” raised money through various endeavours such as public subscription, house-to-house canvassing, test, bazaars, and catering at public functions.
Over the years, the Auxiliary has bought many items needed at the hospital – some of the more recent being a riding tractor, DVD players, patio set, defibrillator, yoga and art work for the residents.
Through the years, we have received many donations in memory of loved ones, who have passed on. We are grateful for all donations, we still continue to accept donations to which we are able to issue a tax receipt.
The first organizational meeting of the Women’s Auxiliary to Cypress Lodge was held on October 14, 1965. A report of the meeting was put in the Maple Creek News, requesting memberships – it resulted in 31 ladies in attendance at the next meeting. Their aim was to purchase needs for the residents there and to make them comfortable and to entertain them.
After many hours and years of volunteering, fund-raising and entertaining, this Auxiliary declined in members to having only 10 or fewer – as did the Hospital Auxiliary in 2009 – the few remaining members decided to amalgamate to become the Hospital Auxiliary. Now in the new facility, being as the word hospital is not being used we are the Auxiliary to the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility.
While the two became one, we still hold the teas and bake sales, two raffles every year at the bake sales, usually a quilt or afghan in the spring and two grocery hampers in the fall.
The tuck shop at the old hospital was very popular, with the ladies taking turns pushing the cart around the wards at the hospital and selling treats, knitted slippers, sweaters, baby articles etc. to the patients and staff, all the knitted articles donated by the talented members. Perhaps once COVID-19 is over, we could once again have something like this to offer to the patients and residents.
Now we have come full circle. To date at present, we have 10 paid members.
We are putting our requests to some of the younger ladies of the community to join us at our next meeting at the Senior’s Centre on June 18 at 2pm.
We continue to wear our masks and we are not allowed to have lunch and coffee – we are hoping this will change soon, when we would go back to having monthly meetings with a potluck lunch in June and in January memberships are $10 per year.
Even though we are small in numbers, we are still big at heart and try to keep providing comfort and entertainment to the residents and patients as best we can, once the pandemic ends.
Again, we are inviting some of the younger ladies to join us. Let’s keep this Auxiliary moving forward for many years to come.
We would like to have you entertain us, “when we get there!”