Auspicious Auxiliary



A typical hospital auxiliary is formed after a hospital is founded to raise funds and help reach financial goals. In the case of McLaren, however, the opposite is true. On April 10, the McLaren Auxiliary celebrated a 95-year history of giving back and making a difference.

The McLaren Auxiliary has roots that go nearly as deep as the hospital itself. Elliott-Girard Women & Children’s Hospital, as it was originally known, was established in 1917, thanks to a loan from C.S. Mott. Dr. Lucy Elliott operated the hospital, which held five beds, and Nurse Lillian Girard assisted her as superintendent. In 1919, eleven women of the community formed a group called the Elliott Girard Circle to support the hospital, meeting in their homes to prepare linens. As the auxiliary grew, so did the hospital and in 1923, when a larger facility was opened on Lapeer St., the auxiliary, which by this time included 200 women, raised funds to buy linens, material and a sewing machine. From 1943-1951, when McLaren General Hospital as we know it today opened on S. Ballenger Highway, the auxiliary raised over two million dollars, and since then has continued to raise money for new technology and techniques. Volunteering has also become an integral part of the work they do.

As the McLaren Auxiliary celebrates its 95th anniversary this year, it boasts 350 members who volunteer their time, talents and resources to ensure that the hospital is providing the best care. “Last year, the auxiliary donated $150,000, which brings our total donated dollars over the years to eight million,” Kathy Carrithers reported proudly. As President of the Auxiliary, Kathy is proof that giving back is the best way to live. She serves at the hospital eight hours a day, overseeing the 30 services rendered by the volunteer force throughout the hospital, planning the fundraisers that bring in so much money, and giving unselfishly. “It’s just so much fun serving with all of these wonderful people,” she smiled joyfully.

Miss Mary Jane Ford is the auxiliary’s longest serving volunteer. As an employee of the hospital, Miss Ford remembers Nurse McLaren encouraging her to join the auxiliary back in 1953. She did, and she has served faithfully for the past 61 years. She is currently a member of the sewers group, knitting caps for newborns. “I’ve enjoyed every minute,” she said of her time in the auxiliary.

While the McLaren Auxiliary is predominantly female in makeup, Bob Hernandez doesn’t feel out of place at all while volunteering with this group. “I’m here to tease the ladies and lift anything heavy,” he laughed. Bob joined two years ago after he retired and found himself painfully bored. Now, as a greeter, escort, and chairperson of the Hospitality House volunteers, Bob makes a habit of keeping his pocket full of Tootsie Rolls, just in case he sees someone in need of a kind gesture. “I get so much more back than I give,” he said of his service. “It’s very rewarding.”

Philip Incarnati, President/CEO of McLaren Hospital, was present at the celebration, and he stated that the auxiliary’s uniqueness lies in the fact that everything they do is on a volunteer basis. “Their smiles, their enthusiasm is just incredible,” he said of the volunteers. “They don’t get enough credit. They are the unheralded champions of the hospital.”



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