By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Marlborough Hospital opened at its current location on Union Street in 1913 after it was originally founded in 1890. Two years later in 1892, the Marlborough Hospital Auxiliary was formed. Since then, the organization has continued helping the hospital become a more pleasant place for its staff, patients and visitors.
Barbara Sutherland is the current auxiliary president and the 63rd to serve in that position. A retired nurse, she moved to Marlborough 13 years ago and joined the auxiliary a year later.
“I volunteer at the hospital and thought this was one more way to participate in hospital life as a retiree,” she said. “The whole purpose of the auxiliary is to support the hospital financially and morally. We'se ambassadors of goodwill for the hospital.”
There are currently about 75 members including women and men.
“We'se getting better at recruiting men,” Sutherland was quick to add. “And we'se encouraging the hospital doctors and their wives to join. You don's have to be retired to be a part of the auxiliary.”
Simple fundraisers such as raffles and bake sales have provided the hospital with items that aren's included in the regular budget. Patients” rooms are more comfortable because their funds purchased televisions and artwork.
“The environment around you can really assist in the healing process,” Sutherland noted.
Among other purchases from the auxiliary's funds are family lounge furniture and diagnostic testing equipment. Their contributions have also assisted the new UMass Memorial Cancer Center at Marlborough Hospital.
“The cancer center is near and dear to our hearts,” Sutherland said. “It will provide radiology and chemotherapy for people in all of the towns the hospital serves, so they won's have to go to Worcester or Boston. The procedure is so taxing. We want to contribute in any way we can to help with that.”
Each year the auxiliary gives the governing authorities of the hospital two checks, one from its general fund and another from proceeds of the Best Wishes Gift Shop. The shop is located on the ground-floor lobby and fully operated by auxiliary volunteers. With Kathy Dale as co-chair, Winsome Erkan monitors the shop's day-to-day operation.
“Winsome has a very keen eye for what to buy and what's saleable,” Sutherland said. “Everything is very reasonably priced. It's a great place for gift buying.”
In addition to a winter Holiday Bazaar in the Leahy Conference Room, a popular ongoing fundraiser is the fall Flea Market on the hospital's front lawn. Vendors are invited to sell their wares and pay only a rental fee for the space. Auxiliary volunteers prepare and serve hot dogs, kielbasa and baked goods.
The auxiliary is planning A Taste of Ireland as a St. Patrick's Day fundraiser Monday, March 17, 2014. At its spring luncheon, the auxiliary awards seven scholarships annually to students who are pursuing any form of medical education. In June, the auxiliary hosts an annual appreciation reception for hospital employees.
Sutherland noted that she's pleased to be involved in an organization with a successfully long history.
“It's very rewarding to know that the auxiliary has continued when lots of other service organizations haven's,” she said. “It's because of the boundless energy of the volunteers who participate. And also because the hospital is extremely supportive, which is only natural because any funds we raise go back to the hospital.”
Three types of memberships are offered: annual member, $10; sustaining member, $20; and life member, $100. Anyone interested in joining the auxiliary can call Sutherland at 508-460-0233, or Mary Ann Stein, volunteer coordinator, at 508-486-5688.