From Ladies’ Auxiliary to She Shares: How generations of inspiring women have shaped healthcare at St. Mary’s

Amid the strife and sorrow of the Great Depression, Sister M. Assumption Kehoe called a meeting at St. Mary’s.
The Sister, serving as Superintendent of Nurses, gathered a group of 18 women, consisting mostly of the wives of the hospital’s advisory board and medical staff, to discuss what the hospital needed to better serve its patients.
Photo: St. Mary's Ladies' Auxiliary
The meeting, on a balmy December day in 1932, marked the beginning of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, a group that would focus on fundraising for the hospital for decades to come.

Rapid rise, quick impact

The Ladies’ Auxiliary blossomed quickly, ballooning from 18 members at their inaugural meeting to 62 one week later.
And the group's impact was just as swift, raising $464 ($9,500 today) in its first year through bake sales, bridge parties, raffles and a 25-cent fee for membership.
Photo: St. Mary's Ladies' Auxiliary meeting to discuss hospital equipment needs.
The women in the group recognized the importance of community generosity in providing the hospital and its staff with necessary tools and equipment. Their initial contributions secured items such as furniture for the nurses’ library and curtains and lampshades for patient rooms.
And their impact only grew from there.
In 1936, the Ladies’ Auxiliary raised money toward the cost of a new portable X-ray machine and in 1955, they funded new bassinets for St. Mary’s nursery.
In the 60s, the Ladies’ Auxiliary brought salon services into the hospital so patients could look their best while recovering.
Among the Ladies’ Auxiliary’s most successful fundraising campaigns was Rose Day, where roses were sold to members of the public. The first Rose Day in 1934 brought in $4,000, surpassing the group’s goal by 30 per cent. The 1937 Rose Day raised $10,400 – nearly $220,000 today.

A legacy that lives on

The Ladies’ Auxiliary amalgamated into the Volunteers’ Association in 1989, lessening its role in fundraising over time as St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation became more established.
But the fundraising spirit of the Ladies’ Auxiliary lives on through the foundation’s She Shares giving circle, a women-led initiative that began in 2017.
Photo: She Shares Women's Giving Circle voting meeting - December 2023
She Shares has blossomed from five founding members to 80 over its first six years and hopes to reach 100 in 2024 – for St. Mary’s 100th anniversary.
She Shares members gather each year to hear pitches from hospital staff on equipment that needs funding. The group then votes on what they'll fund using their pooled membership fees.
To date, She Shares has raised nearly $300,000 to improve care for St. Mary’s patients, carrying a torch lit by the Ladies’ Auxiliary nearly a century ago.
Photo: She Shares Women's Giving Circle plaque unveiling at St. Mary's - December 2023
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St. Mary's General Hospital - 100 Years

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