On March 26, 1894, about 50 Winona women gathered at the home of Mrs. Hannibal Choate Sr., 263 West 5th Street, to discuss the possibility of forming a new organization. The ladies represented all religious denominations in the city and had been called together to consider the formation of a ladies hospital aid association, which would be associated with the one-month old Winona General Hospital.
Dr. D.B. Pritchard, one of the hospitals organizers, made the appeal. Would they, he asked, “organize an association which would assist in furnishing the new hospital and insuring its usefulness, comfort and home-likeness?”
Eager to get started on its programs of aiding the new hospital, the Auxiliary organized a fundraising “entertainment” which was presented in July 1894. It netted $8.10. The first Charity Ball was held in 1907. Previously, rummage sales, bazaars, entertainment, plays, musicals and banquets had been the Auxiliary’s most dependable fundraising projects.
A milestone in the history of the Women’s Auxiliary came in 1953, when it was reorganized and its membership became based on organizational, rather than personal, affiliation.
Projects for the “Pink Ladies” included such tasks as sewing and mending for the hospital (right), taking care of housekeeping projects such as having chairs reupholstered, draperies replaced or repaired and providing cheerful touches in the public areas of the hospital.
Early funds raised by the Winona General Hospital Women’s Auxiliary were used to purchase essential hospital equipment and to underwrite a social service work program, which aided needy families in paying for their hospitalization when their incomes proved inadequate.
On March 26, 1994, precisely 100 years after the first 50 women gathered at the Choate home, Auxilians past and present gathered at the historical home now owned by Julie Pendleton for a Centennial Tea celebration. Minutes of that first meeting revealed a tea menu, which was replicated for the event.
The celebration marked the beginning of another 100 years of service to Community Memorial Hospital by its dedicated Auxiliary members.