Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary Celebrates 60 years
When you walk through any of the entrances of Falmouth Hospital you are greeted by smiling volunteers who also happen to be members of the Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary. They give you directions, sign you in for procedures, answer questions and, if necessary, offer a listening ear.
It is with that same caring and openness that 60 years ago, 60 women came together to form the Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary. Their goal was to raise funds for a new hospital and then continue on as volunteers within the hospital once it was built.
In a story published in the Falmouth Enterprise on May 17, 1957, the auxiliary was described as “a group of enterprising women who are interested in working for the benefit of the hospital in its formative state and after the hospital is a reality.” The article included their roles of assisting in preparing lists and help with the clerical work of the Falmouth Hospital Association, the group that oversaw the fundraising and building of the hospital.
Additionally, they would do “essential sewing, make bed spreads and quilts, prepare surgical dressings, form a ladies’ visiting committee and do volunteer services such as running a hobby shop and a library, arranging flowers, etc.,” according to the article.
Winnie Fitzpatrick, current president of the Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary has some of the original volunteer handbooks. One of the earlier ones had the following description of a volunteer: “A good volunteer is a friendly and efficient ambassador of goodwill.”
The booklet also had a cautionary guideline about their time spent in the hospital: “Anything you see here, anything you hear here, stays here.”
The auxiliary has come a long way since the early days, but the mission remains essentially the same. And they will celebrate those changes and successes with a special luncheon on Oct. 11 at the Coonamessett Inn in Falmouth.
Evolution of Volunteering and Fundraising
Today, a 20-member board of directors and 146 auxiliary members, including men and women, provide volunteer support in the various departments throughout the hospital and raise funds to meet its physical and equipment needs.
“Falmouth Hospital’s patients benefit in so many ways from this generous group of auxilians,” said Nancy Leanues, Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation liaison for the Falmouth Hospital and Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliaries. “They wear two hats: they are volunteers who help in many departments at the hospital and they volunteer at the Falmouth Hospital Thrift Shop and Gift Shop, raising money for the hospital. They have a wonderful team of volunteers who make sweaters, baby blankets, quilts, scarves and other creative works of art for the gift shop.
“Their financial gifts through the years total almost $6 million. This incredible total was raised dollar by dollar.”
Men have come to play a more active role, especially through volunteerism throughout the hospital and working in the VRI Personal Emergency Response systems program. They do installations and provide and instruct seniors about the medical alert system in their homes. They volunteer throughout the hospital and the the past two presidents of the organization have been men.