The Valley Hospital Auxiliary—
70 Years of Service
In the mid-1940’s, seven years before The Valley Hospital opened, there was a Valley Hospital Auxiliary. On January 21, 1944, J. Robert Stout, President of “The Ridgewood Hospital Association” (name changed to The Valley Hospital in 1945), invited 60 women from local organizations to form a Women’s Auxiliary for the future hospital. Thirty-six women signed up, elected officers, and began formulating plans and programs. The Auxiliary was officially named the Women’s Auxiliary of The Valley Hospital. By April 1944, 450 charter members decided their involvement would be “supportive”…helping to furnish and decorate the new hospital, make surgical dressings and recruit nurses aides.
The Steilen House, a private home on 9 acres of land, was purchased for $15,000 with the idea of converting it into a 35- bed hospital. But it was quickly determined that a larger hospital with at least 100 beds was needed. In true “supportive” style, Auxiliary members realized that if the hospital were to become a reality, they would have to start fundraising.
The first Valley Ball was held in November, 1946. Other fundraisers during the early years included bridge parties, tennis matches, carnivals, a rummage sale, benefit theater productions, an antique show and a horse and pony show.
In 1949, when the Auxiliary was asked to open a small gift shop and snack bar, the Hospital Board allocated the first floor of the remodeled Steilen House for that purpose. Using over $8,000 in raised funds, the Auxiliary furnished and equipped Kurth Cottage Hospitality Shop which opened in May 1950, 15 months before the Hospital. Kurth moved to its present location in 1963.
A two-story hospital was planned, but the Auxiliary believed a third floor was essential. When they were told there wasn’t enough money, the “Third Floor Drive” was created to raise $58,000. Instead, Auxiliary members raised $140,000, enough to fully furnish and equip a new third floor!
The Valley Hospital opened its doors on August 8, 1951. By 1952, the Auxiliary’s membership expanded into 14 towns that made up Valley’s service area. A local “Branch” was formed in each town and each Branch planned its own fundraising activities. Originally, their funds went towards the purchase of isolettes, sterilizers and respirators, but in 1953, all funds went into a general fund for special projects and programs.
Today’s Auxiliary, with more than 1,500 members in 16 branches, works to fulfill the Auxiliary’s three-fold mission: to raise funds for special projects, provide volunteer service, and serve as community liaison.
Throughout its 70 year history, The Valley Hospital Auxiliary has raised more than $17 million in support of much-needed healthcare programs and services that have touched thousands of patients and their families.
Fundraising is ongoing through:
- Biennial Kitchen Tour
- Annual Valley Ball and Golf Outing
- Proceeds from Kurth Gift Shop and Café
- Sales from the Auxiliary-run art gallery
- Sales of commemorative pavers in the Friendship Garden
- Advertising and benefactor donations in the annual Valley Hospital Journal
- Donations to Tree of Light commemorative program
- Local branch fundraisers including fashion shows, wine tastings, boutique shopping events, and much more.
As volunteers, Auxilians can be found:
- Serving customers in Kurth Cottage Café and Gift Shop
- Working in various parts of the Hospital including the Emergency Department, reception area, maternity unit, and Luckow Pavilion
As community liaisons, the Auxiliary:
- Awards annual scholarships to deserving students
- Helps organize and participate in the annual Teddy Bear Party sponsored by Valley Home Care
- Purchases gifts for needy families involved with Valley Home Care
- Delivers gifts to hospitalized patients during the holidays through “Auxiliary Cares”
- Hosts “Tree of Light” holiday reception for the community
The Valley Hospital Auxiliary is a growing, ever-changing force in the Hospital and the community. As members, we all appreciate the opportunity to give back to a hospital that gives us so much, and we hope that the next 70 years will be as fruitful and fulfilling as the first 70.
For more information on The Valley Hospital Auxiliary, please click on the Auxiliary icon at the bottom of this page.