St. Paul Auxiliary volunteers to be honored this summer

By Connie Piloto

A volunteer organization that has served in the UT Southwestern University Hospital – St. Paul building for more than six decades and logged nearly a million volunteer hours will officially dissolve in July.

The group’s legacy of service, including raising funds for hospital projects and student scholarships, will be honored by UT Southwestern this summer.

Like many auxiliaries across the country, the St. Paul University Hospital Auxiliary faces a shortage of volunteers as its members advance in years and few younger volunteers replace them, especially in leadership positions.

Members of the St. Paul Women's Auxiliary did double duty in 1968 at the Texas Association of Hospital Auxiliary Convention, held at the Hotel Adolphus in downtown Dallas. That year marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of the St. Paul organization.

“We welcome the auxiliary members who wish to continue as hospital volunteers,” said Sharon Riley, chief executive officer and vice president for UT Southwestern University Hospitals. “Sixty-six years of service is a wonderful accomplishment. The dedication and commitment the auxiliary has so lovingly provided is a legacy that will live on.”

Many auxiliary members say they will continue to serve through the University Hospital volunteer program.

Gretchen Shaw, a longtime auxiliary member who is serving her third term as president of the organization, said she hopes to continue to volunteer at the hospital.

“The auxiliary has provided me with many strong friendships and much laughter, while I was giving service to the auxiliary and hence the community,” said Ms. Shaw.

Established by a group of Dallas women in 1943, the auxiliary started out making pajamas, sheets, pillowcases and other items for the hospital.

In 1951 it funded its first project, providing $3,000 to furnish the nursery. Since that time, the auxiliary has raised more than $3 million, including a $500,000 donation in 1982 for the hospital.

Recent grants include a bispectral index (BIS) monitor for surgery, a special monitor for labor and delivery patients, a warming bed for newborns and continued payments on the five-year pledge to provide $150,000 for the fifth-floor refurbishment.

The auxiliary operates the gift shop, the thrift shop and vendor sales to support grants to the hospital. Members also volunteer at information desks, chaplain services, the emergency room, the volunteer office and the transplant office. The gift shop now will be operated by University Hospitals, and University Hospital volunteers can opt to serve there or in other areas of the hospital.

In 2008 auxiliary members donated almost 11,000 hours of volunteer time to the hospital. Since the group’s inception, more than 950,000 hours of service have been provided.

The auxiliary also ran a popcorn machine that raised funds for scholarships. Members are proud to have assisted in the academic careers of more than 300 health care students.

In the final year of the auxiliary scholarship program, the group was able to award 38 $1,000 scholarships and one $2,000 scholarship to health care students. The funds came from popcorn machine sales and a generous bequest by longtime auxiliary member Doris Crawford.