Years of caring

One hundred eighteen years ago, a group of women in the Jacksonville community decided to help its struggling hospital by forming an Auxiliary at Passavant Memorial Area Hospital.  Little did they know that those humble beginnings would become the vital organization that is still operating today.

The Passavant Area Hospital Auxiliary serves a three-fold purpose:  to provide scholarships for employees seeking to further their healthcare training; to purchase needed items requested by various hospital departments; and to offer various outreach services and programs in Jacksonville and the surrounding communities to support and promote Passavant Area Hospital.

The Auxiliary has been fortunate through the years to attract community members who are willing to give their time and talents to the Auxiliary fund-raising events.  The major three are highlighted below:

Annual Holiday Bazaar – Beginning in 1956, the Bazaar is held in November in time for early Christmas shopping. There is an array of events beginning Friday afternoon and ending Saturday afternoon. The Saturday luncheon and the pantry with its delicious homemade items were added to the Bazaar in 1987.  The Antique Boutique and Bazaar vendors were included in 2010 and 2007, respectively. The tradition of polishing the tea service for the Deaconess Tea began with the first tea in 1875 and continues today. The Tea is a tribute to the Lutheran Deaconesses who helped Reverend Passavant in establishing the Jacksonville Hospital. The 58th Passavant Auxiliary Holiday Bazaar will be held on November 7 and 8 this year. The hospital lobby, meeting rooms and Gift Shop are transformed with holiday décor to highlight the season and the Bazaar theme.

The Gift Shop – One of the “best kept secrets” in Jacksonville is Passavant’s Gift Shop located off the hospital lobby. When it opened in 1951 at the hospital on East State, it was set up in an antique cabinet and stocked with handmade items. It now operates as an efficient business. The Gift Shop has some of the finest gifts for weddings, birthdays, and various holidays plus an excellent greeting card selection. The Auxiliary Gift Shop co-chairs attend buying trips and that makes for a varied shopping experience as the co-chairs change annually.

Follies – If you haven’t seen a Follies over the years, you’ve missed something very special.  If you haven’t heard of Ken Bradbury, you should get out more! Ken wrote and directed five Follies in the past 20 years, plus in 2014 he presented “Genesis” as the Auxiliary’s major Follies fundraiser. Traditionally, every four years a Follies stage show was held with Passavant employees and community members volunteering many hours for the Auxiliary and Passavant Hospital. Genesis raised over $44,000 for the Passavant Auxiliary to purchase a new paramedic vehicle. Thank you to all those involved!

The Passavant Auxiliary has other ways to raise funds for the hospital. Throughout the year there are uniform sales, book sales, and jewelry sales that offer quality items at special prices.  These sales are held in one of the hospital meeting rooms.

In addition to the items requested by various hospital departments, the Auxiliary is committed to promoting education. Many scholarships are granted each year to employees working toward advanced healthcare degrees. If they meet the criteria, full, part-time and per diem  employees may apply for $700 scholarships up to three times a year. “We’re pleased to make at least $35,000 a year available to Passavant’s healthcare workers for scholarships and we hope we make a difference in their educational opportunities,” said JoAnn Nelson, Scholarship Committee Chair.

The Auxiliary is involved in other services and programs, such as the Central Illinois Community Blood Bank, which takes donations at the hospital the first and second Tuesday of each month. And when you see second graders walking through the hospital halls in their bright yellow mini-medical days t-shirts, an Auxiliary member is guiding them through hospital departments to have their first glimpse at what to expect as a patient at Passavant.

In our ever changing healthcare climate, it’s important to keep abreast of pertinent state and federal legislation concerning medical issues affecting hospitals. The Health Advocacy Chairs update the Auxiliary each month about new and pending legislation that affects healthcare in Illinois.

Even though Passavant Area Hospital is located in Jacksonville, it serves communities in outlying areas. The Auxiliary also has representatives on the Board from these outlying areas to keep their communities informed about the Auxiliary and Passavant activities.

Passavant Area Hospital was founded in 1875 – 139 years ago.  The Auxiliary was officially started in 1896 – 118 years ago. The Chapel’s stain glass window was donated in 1898 – 116 years ago and moved to its current location on Walnut in 1950. What a rich history for our hospital, the Auxiliary members and those who supported it over the years.

In 1896 each member of the Auxiliary paid ten cents in dues; today $10 a year. The Auxiliary has over 200 members, and members are its life line. Each May, at its annual meeting and luncheon, the year is reviewed, and new officers and board members are elected. As a past president of the Auxiliary wrote in 1975, Passavant’s Centennial year, “. . . perhaps what we strive to do today will serve as an inspiration to you.”  Let’s strive for another 100 years.

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