Hospital helpers

Published 9:30 pm Saturday, August 20, 2011

From left, Bonnie Langer, Obici Hospital Auxiliary president; Phyllis Stoneburner, Vice President Patient Care Services at Sentara Obici Hospital; and Kurt Hofelich, president of Sentara Obici Hospital, hold the check the auxiliary provided to purchase sleeper sofas for patients’ families. Other contributions have included medical equipment and a stained-glass window for the hospital chapel.

Obici Auxiliary provides support for history of the hospital

For most of its existence, Sentara Obici Hospital has had a partner in the Obici Hospital Auxiliary.

The auxiliary was organized in 1951, just a year after Obici Hospital was established, to support the needs of patients and provide volunteers to support hospital operations.

And through the years, the group has held fundraisers and collected money to provide services and supplies that the hospital isn’t able to afford.

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“We raise money to buy things they may not be in the budget,” said Debbie Williams, the volunteer coordinator at Obici and former Auxiliary president.

Williams said the work the group does helps the hospital provide better care for the patients.

“We hope that the patients are most affected (by what we do),” she said.

Every year the Auxiliary has one big project to purchase something for the hospital that will benefit the patients.

This year, the group is donating six sleeper sofas to the older wings of the hospital, so patients’ family members can stay the night more comfortably.

Williams said the group got the idea from nurses who told them the family members were worried about not having anywhere to sleep overnight.

“When you have surgery or are in the hospital for any reason and you can have a loved one stay with you, it’s a comfort,” Williams said.

The group raised the money for the sleeper sofas through a purse sale they held earlier in the year.

The Auxiliary has fundraisers throughout the year, which are coordinated by the group’s president Bonnie Langer.

Next month, Williams said, the organization will host a cookware sale, featuring name brand pots, pans and other items.

But in addition to its big project, the Auxiliary also donates time and money to other causes throughout the hospital.

For example, the group funded the creation and the maintenance of the hospital’s rose garden and distributes handmade teddy bears, made by the Pilot Club of Suffolk, to sick children at Obici.

Also, to encourage students who are looking to get into the medical field, the Auxiliary has awarded scholarships to local high school students.

Last year, Williams said, the group gave two teenagers $1,000 each to go toward their educations.

In March, the Auxiliary members handed out daffodils, which are the flower of the American Cancer Society, to cancer patients and sold them to visitors in the hospital.

Williams said they raised about $1,000 from the flower sale.

“Every little bit helps,” she said.

Auxiliary also had a hand in funding the new Nightingale Air Ambulance by making a $5,000 contribution toward the purchase of the new aircraft.

At Christmas, Auxiliary hosts a tree lighting ceremony and sells ornaments as a fundraiser at the event. It’s been a tradition for the group for the past 30 years.

Aside from all of its other fundraisers, the group earns the most money from sales at the hospital gift shop, Williams said.

“Our biggest fundraiser is our gift shop,” she said.

Williams said the Auxiliary is a critical part of the hospital’s success because it is made up of volunteers.

“The Auxiliary is all volunteers,” she said. “A hospital could not operate without volunteers.”