EMMC Auxiliary enters 118th year

Posted Sept. 20, 2011, at 3:10 p.m.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of being in contact with four members of the board of Eastern Maine Medical Center Auxiliary in Bangor.

I discovered this is a group of whom it can most certainly be said are all on the same page.

Determined, assured, enthusiastic, confident and committed to continuing the support this organization has given the hospital throughout its 118-year-history, its board is reaching out to the community, seeking new members with new ideas to ensure its future.

Past president Cindy Curran and vice president Ginger Ward-Green came to my office; I talked by phone with vacationing president Paula Ballesteros, and I’ve been in regular contact with board member Helen Genco, who’s keeping me up-to-date with all the information I need about the Auxiliary.

The women, speaking with one voice, explained they are looking forward to increasing their membership and their work.

Ward-Green, who lived in Bangor as a child while her father was assigned to the then Dow Air Force Base, returned here six years ago and said she was “astounded at what silent movers the Auxiliary members are within the community. They are the unsung heroes” supporting the hospital, she said.

Curran, who said the Auxiliary doesn’t do as well as it should promoting itself, believes events and activities it sponsors that are of interest to the general public are good ways to help with its goal of increasing membership.

“We need to get younger people involved,” she said.

“Young people revitalize with us new ideas.”

“We could do even more good work with more young people,” Ward-Green added.

The Auxiliary is on track to complete its 5-year, $500,000 pledge to CancerCare of Maine, which is no small accomplishment: raising the funds to make those $100,000 annual payments.

But, as Ballesteros pointed out, new ideas for fundraising are essential to continuing to meet such commitments.

For example, the EMMC Auxiliary Gift Shop was, in previous years, a base of financial support for the Auxiliary but that has changed, dramatically, with the downturn in the economy.

“Sales from the Gift Shop have decreased, so we need to look for other ways to raise funds,” Ballesteros said.

“The board continues to contribute and be creative and innovative” in that effort, she added as an inducement for those who might consider joining the Auxiliary.

“And it’s a fun organization. We want people to have some time for fun.”

Along with its major annual fundraisers, new ideas have arisen that have been successful as well.

Last year, for example, Curran organized a Maine Wine and Vine Tour that was immediately filled with 54 Auxiliary members, taking them on a coach day-trip to four Maine wineries for a good time while raising funds for the auxiliary’s financial commitments.

And board member Eileen Hernandez got a team together to take part in the recent Champion the Cure Challenge in support of CancerCare of Maine which, Curran and Ward-Green said, not only was a fun event for Auxiliarians but also a way to demonstrate its support for other affiliated facilities the organization helps support.

The Auxiliary’s history is impressive.

Since its inception, Hernandez reported, the Auxiliary has given more than $3.1 million to the hospital and its programs and last year raised $120,000.

Donations went to fulfill its annual pledge to the Champion the Cure Campaign and to Children’s Miracle Network.

Four $1,000 scholarships were awarded Husson University nursing students during the Auxiliary’s spring meeting, memorial contributions were made and two $250 awards were presented to nursing students during Husson’s graduation.

The 200-member EMMC Auxiliary is made up of men and women from the Bangor area, with 20 women serving on its board of directors.

All those individuals volunteer for and support its major fundraisers, which are the Gift Shops (the one at EMMC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year), its Kitchen Tour and Marketplace in October, its Winter Beach Ball in January, occasional tours and its first cookbook, “Recipes to Crow About,” featuring nearly 300 recipes from 80 contributors and available at the Gift Shops for $12 or at the Kitchen Tour for $10.

The 7th annual Kitchen Tour is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at six kitchens in Bangor, Orono and Old Town.

Admission is $25 per person and includes gourmet specialty foods and beverages at each kitchen. Tickets are available at emmcauxiliary.org, the Auxiliary Gift Shops and at Patrick’s Hallmark, Rebecca’s and Miller Drug Westgate Branch, all in Bangor.

In its 5-year history, this event has raised nearly $60,000.

EMMC Auxiliary active membership dues are just $10, or $15 for a sustaining member and a one-time payment of $150 for a life membership.

For information, call 973-7851 or visit the Auxiliary’s website.

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