Saint Francis Medical Center Auxiliary celebrates 50th year

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Outgoing Saint Francis Medical Center Auxiliary president Jean Ratliff announced a $200,000 donation during the group's 50th anniversary lunch Tuesday. The money is second installment toward a $500,000 rooftop garden for the medical center's future heart hospital and cancer institute building.

The auxiliary started in 1959 with 87 women and a gift cart.

The auxiliary has raised $2 million in 50 years through gift shop, craft and bake sales, donating $313,000 to health-care scholarships. Speaker Edythe M. Davis said a recent bake sale raised $1,600.

"The money truly makes a difference," said Steven Bjelich, medical center president and chief executive officer. "But the volunteers' daily commitment is immeasurable. You spent the last half-century doing amazing things."

Nearly 200 people attended the annual lunch at the Drury Lodge, which included an auxiliary memorabilia display.

Founding president Vernice Baumstark looked on as volunteer Bob Martin, 84, accepted the 21st annual Baumstark award for his eight years of enthusiastic service. He walks about five miles in every shift while helping visitors and is known for his friendly smile.

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