When you drive under the skywalk at Trinity Hospital at night this season, you can thank the Trinity Health Auxiliary for putting a little sparkle in your evening commute.
Recently, volunteers with the auxiliary helped to decorate the hospital just in time for the beginning of the Christmas holiday. The skywalk, which connects the hospital with the Trinity Health Center-East, was fitted with Christmas lights that line both sides.
Injecting Christmas cheer at the hospital is just one of the many things that the auxiliary members do.
James C. Falcon/MDN - - From left: Colleen Fitchner, Ardy Painter and Pat Johnson, members of the Trinity Health Auxiliary, were busy selling baked goods to raise money for the auxiliary’s projects on Nov. 17. They raised about $1,000, which will go to help remodel Trinity Health South Ridge, said Brenda Beyer, president of the auxiliary.
Brenda Beyer, president of the auxiliary, explained that is one of the many projects that the auxiliary undertakes during the year.
"We do a lot of fundraising throughout the year," Beyer said.
Recently, in mid-November, the auxiliary held a bake sale, which proved to be a successful sale.
"Just for the bake sale and we had a lot going on besides that (we raised) nearly $1,000," Beyer said.
The auxiliary members have been busy for the past year raising money to remodel South Ridge, a clinic office building located near Dakota Square Mall.
"It had very little done to it since it was built a long time ago. It was needing to be remodeled to accommodate many different specialty offices there," Beyer said, adding that South Ridge currently houses the pain clinic, as well as some family practitioners. "Our space generally for offices for doctors is small compared to the number of doctors we're getting in. So we're looking at trying to house the physicians in nice facilities facilities where access is easy, with good parking, those things that make it easier for patients to get in to see physicians and to get back out."
The building also has structural problems and flooding caused by broken pipes.
In December 2010, the auxiliary set a pledge to raise $250,000 for remodeling South Ridge. This month, it will have achieved half of the goal.
"When we have our Christmas party, we will have paid half of that," Beyer said, noting that the auxiliary makes payments on its pledges twice a year: first, at the volunteer banquets in March or April, and again at the auxiliary Christmas party every December.
She added that the auxiliary has the goal to raise the money as "quickly as possible ... I would anticipate we could have that done by March or April of 2013."
Once the pledge for South Ridge has been paid, the auxiliary will take on another pledge, "something that our CEO and administration would like for us to do," Beyer said.
While fundraising for South Ridge is the auxiliary's primary function, it also raises money for other projects. Those projects include a radiology scholarship for the School of Radiology at Trinity, which are offered to a junior and senior every year. The group also provides funding for the Trinity Guest House and Trinity CancerCare Cottage.
The auxiliary also raises money for projects that don't necessarily make Trinity's budgets, such as the audio/visual system at the nursing home.
"It is so good," Beyer said. "It has the great big screen and the audio portion where people can hear and run movies on this great big huge screen. The acoustics are wonderful."
Prior to the South Ridge pledge, the auxiliary undertook pledges to fund a new nurse call system, new uniforms for the volunteers, and new china and linens for Trinity's dietary department.
"We never run out (of projects)," Beyer added. "We always have something we're raising money toward."
While there aren't any fundraising projects planned in the near future, Beyer said that the auxiliary is "open to other fundraising things throughout the year."
An art show is scheduled for February, as is a book fair, which doesn't have a tentative time slot, although Beyer said that one or two will be held in 2012.
The auxiliary doesn't always focus on the finances. Besides the fundraising, the auxiliary participates in blood drives, as well as health screenings at different places.
"We have a nursing assistant program, where they go to school and we get to be their crash dummies for the testing," Beyer said. "And we do just about anything else that people ask us to do."
To keep up with that task, the auxiliary actively seeks volunteers all year round. The auxiliary is "the voice of the volunteer force at Trinity," Beyer said.
"And the volunteer force at Trinity is huge. There are volunteers in every portion of Trinity Hospital, and the number of hours our volunteers put in is absolutely fantastic," Beyer added.
In 2009, there were 225 volunteers who put in 659,880 hours, Beyer said, adding "it runs right close to that ways."
To join the auxiliary, membership is $3.
"They can basically join the auxiliary and join an organization that makes an impact toward Trinity Hospital," said Sherry Maragos, volunteer service coordinator for Trinity.
These volunteers can furnish baked goods for the annual bazaar, or give their time and talents as a contribution to give back to the community.
"A lot of people have had experiences with Trinity with positive outcomes, and its a way of giving back to an organization that is making a positive impact," Maragos said, adding that joining the auxiliary is like becoming "part of a family, the Trinity family."
Those who are interested can sign up at Trinity Volunteer Services, or call the office at 857-5221.