RCH Auxiliary Celebrates 35th Anniversary on Monday

Rooks County Health Center’s (RCH) Auxiliary anniversary reception commemorating 35 years of service will be held 1 to 4 p.m., Monday, October 1 at the RCH cafeteria, 1210 N. Washington Street. The public is invited to enjoy in the celebration with refreshments and a review of projects completed, equipment purchased and remembrance of the committees and officers, old and new, who have made the organization such a success.

The organizational meeting of the Auxiliary was held September 15, 1983, with the following 15 members in attendance:  Verna Dean Hamblet, Janet Kellerman, Phelma Knight, Geraldine Hrabe, Shirley Comeau, Virginia Engborg, Tracey Fellhoelter, Opal Barb, Ethel Mayhew, Bernice Barta, Donna Brown, Polly Hrabe, Christy Graves, Mary Lou Gilliland, and Dorothy Smrcka. 

The group met with the public to an overwhelming public attendance of about 100 people, all excited to begin an Auxiliary to support the hospital.  The following officers were elected:  President, Verna Dean Hamblet; Vice-President, Janet Kellerman; Secretary, Christy Graves and Treasurer, Shirley Comeau.  The hospital board agreed to contribute $75 to create the Auxiliary treasury.  Many people paid $5 dues that day to get it started.  The active Auxiliary membership dues are still the same $5 per year.  Lifetime dues of $100 for a one-time membership, and supporting members dues of $25 per year, for members who are unable to travel or contribute volunteer hours.  According to current President, Karen Sinclair, the current membership is 127.

RCH Auxiliary joined the Hospital Auxiliary Kansas organization with the collective purpose of promoting and advancing the welfare of the hospital through the governing board of the hospital.  This goal is accomplished by interpretation of the hospital to the public, through service to the hospital and its patients, and through fundraising endeavors.

RCH Auxiliary’s original support included assisting in making the physical appearance of the interior and exterior of the hospital the best possible to create an inviting but professional atmosphere.  The Auxiliary hoped to serve as a “connecting” force between the hospital, its patients and the public in different forms of voluntary service.  This is noted in the 18 different committees that were originally established.  According to Sinclair, RCH Auxiliary currently has 15 committees that serve to link together the organization and the hospital board, staff, employees, patients, and community. 

In 1986, RCH Auxiliary created the Memorial Lights project as both a fund-raiser and a wonderful way to remember a loved one at the start of the Christmas season.  A memorial light is obtained for $5 in memory of a deceased loved one.  The loved ones names are read during the light ceremony and recorded in the Memorial Book for the year. The Memorial Light Ceremony is held the first part of December in the RCH clinic lobby and is open to the family and friends to participate.

In August 2002, the Plainville Coin and Gun Club disbanded and donated $1,500 to the Memorial Scholarship Fund. These funds are used solely for the Auxiliary Memorial Scholarship Fund which provides scholarships to individuals who are completing their education in a health care field. These scholarships are restricted to residents of Rooks County or employees of the hospital working to enhance their skills to better serve the hospital.  The first scholarships were awarded in 1990 and to date a total of $39,700 has been awarded to 49 individuals.

June 2001, the “Gift Nook” opened in the hospital lobby on S. Colorado street. Proceeds from sales were used for the many projects of the Auxiliary. The new facility was designed with the Auxiliary gift shop in mind. Staffed by volunteers the Gift Shop is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “We have tried to be faithful in staffing to keep the gift shop open during those hours. If you see it closed it is due to lack of volunteers able to give of their time,” explained Sinclair. “The gift shop provides many items needed by the various hospital departments and for our patients. The customers favorite day is cookie day when the volunteers sell fresh baked Spunkmeyer cookies.”

Every year, a few members attend the Hospital Auxiliaries Kansas convention.  According to Sinclair, it has been a great resource over the years to obtain new fundraising ideas.  “The latest is to network with other area auxiliaries to bring in trunk sales of various desired items; such as Mountain Man snacks, sheet sales, shoe sales, etc.  The vendors come in on a designated day, set up and sell their items. They pay the Auxiliary a percentage of the total sales and volunteer hours are at a minimum. It’s a little like going back in history to traveling sales wagons.” Another fundraiser learned from the convention created a partnership with local food stores to sell their food cards through the RCH Auxiliary gift shop.  Both Rooks County grocers, Mr. K’s Food Town of Plainville and Webster’s Super Market of Stockton, contribute a donation of 5% for each gift card sold.

In addition to fundraising, RCH Auxiliary has contributed to improvements at both hospital locations, the original South Colorado location and the current location along US HWY 183. Improvement ranged from hands on renovations to purchasing equipment needed for patient care and comfort, as well as comfort for visitors.

“It is interesting to note how the changes in historical growth can be noted in the review of various projects, improvements and equipment over the 35-year span.  There have also been donations between the years of 2010 and 2012 to the Plainville and Stockton Fire Departments, the Stockton Clinic, the Rooks County Cancer Fund, and the RCH Health Fairs.  In 2015 there has been a decrease from the number donations for equipment to monetary donation to the new construction phases I & II because the cost includes equipment needs,” commented Sinclair.

In 2003 RCH Auxiliary began serving as host to the Red Cross Blood Drives held in Plainville.  Elvera Beiker has been the coordinator from the beginning, with duties that include arranging the location, volunteers, notifications to the area donors of the date, location and times, as well as the purchase and the preparation of the canteen food provided to the donors.  “The Auxiliary is proud of all their volunteer hours for this well-deserved project.  Each of the five blood drives held requires approximately 100 volunteer hours; most of which come from RCH Auxiliary,” explained Sinclair.  “There is always a need for more escorts to assist throughout the day.  Rooks County donors have been very supportive to meet the goals set by the Red Cross.”

A full array of RCH Auxiliary achievements will be on display at the anniversary reception. The RCH Auxiliary meets the last Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. at the RCH Education Center located at 409 N. Washington in Plainville. If you are interested in joining the RCH Auxiliary please call Karen Sinclair at 785-688-4098.


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