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Auxiliary swan song

December 27, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

The thing about covering events for a newspaper is that you witness things beginning and progressing in communities, and you see things come to an end, too.

The latter was the case when the Trinity Health System Auxiliary held its swan song holiday dinner meeting Dec. 13 at the Steubenville Country Club.

Diane Macedonia, auxiliary president, presided at the meeting where the auxiliary presented a check for $180,000 to Trinity Health System, which was accepted with gratitude by Fred Brower, its president and chief executive officer.

Article Photos

Trinity auxiliary officers at its swan song event Dec. 13 included, from left, Dolores Pirraglia, treasurer; Eleanor Weiss, vice president; Diane Macedonia, president; Judy Brancazio, corresponding secretary; and Barbara Kowalsky, secretary.
-- Janice R. Kiaski

The money generated from in-house projects and profit from the gift shops at Trinity Medical Center East and Trinity Medical Center West, Macedonia said, will go toward continued improvements at the YMCA Wellness Center in the former St. John Arena.

For a little history here, the Trinity Auxiliary has been in place 13 years after the former Ohio Valley Hospital and St. John Medical Center merged, blending its twig and guild organizations that have been around as long as each of those facilities came into existence. They raised incredible amounts of money to do an incredible amount of good when it comes to supporting health care locally.

The Women's Advisory Board of Ohio Valley Hospital organized in 1922, for instance, and had at one time 16 Twig units under it. The meeting Dec. 13 signaled an end as well to two of the three remaining Twigs - the Cypress and the Daisy twigs. The Heather Twig, however, led by co-chairs Elena Crisante and Cerryn Cottrell-Marshall, will continue under the same name and remain active. It will stay connected to the Trinity Foundation, the hospital system's fundraising arm.

Keith Murdock, director of the foundation, said the Heather Twig will be supporting in its continued fundraising efforts the hospital's acquisition of a breast cancer diagnostic machine - three-dimensional imaging with breast tomosynthesis.

"This is like a breast CT and is the most indicative test we can do for women with breast cancer," Murdock said. "We can identify the cancer and come up with a treatment plan even before any lump is removed, so this is the type of thing that the Heather Twigs are going to be supporting, and this is the program that we're going to be working for throughout the remainder of 2013," Murdock said.

The Heather Twig has a beer and wine-tasting fundraiser set for March 1 at the Steubenville Country Club.

"Breast health is a major issue in today's society, and this is the type of thing we're looking to eradicate in Steubenville. We still have the highest incidence of breast cancer in the state of Ohio in Jefferson County," Murdock said, noting the machine is to be installed and operational in January.

That the auxiliary has now come to an end as a working unit of the hospital system is a sign of the times as membership wanes, an affliction not uncommon to many organizations.

So the dinner meeting was the auxiliary's last hurrah and with it, I offer these parting notes:

"Bittersweet" was a word used by several at the event to lament the end of the auxiliary. "It's a bittersweet moment because women have been the driving force behind hospitals in this town for over a hundred years, and this is really a tribute to all the women who have raised the money," Murdock said before the dinner got under way. "In 1912, the women raised $200,000 in eight days to build Ohio Valley Hospital. That's the kind of power women have in health care in this community."

Macedonia offered thanks for all the members' support during her presidency and acknowledged her fellow officers, including Eleanor Weiss, its vice president and a 34-year member; Barbara Kowalsky, secretary; Dolores Pirraglia, treasurer; and Judy Brancazio, corresponding secretary.

Three individuals singled out for special recognition were Glenda Fordyce, manager of the gift shop at Trinity East; Mary Roe, manager of the gift shop at Trinity West; and Jaye Needham, volunteer coordinator at Trinity East.

Birthday wishes were mentioned for longtime auxiliary member Josephine DiNova, who turned 99 on Dec. 16.

Sister Nancy Ferguson, director of mission integration, offered the blessing.

Although the auxiliary is no more, Macedonia stressed that the volunteer programs at East and West are alive and well. "Several people were concerned that without the auxiliary there would no longer be volunteers. Please let everyone know that new volunteers are always welcome," Macedonia said. Anyone interested in such opportunities can contact Jaye Needham at Trinity East or Carol Bonar at Trinity West.

In addition to the auxiliary's $180,000 donation, it accepted a donation of $5,300 from the Daisy Twig with Noreen Peterson making the presentation to Macedonia. In recent months, the Heather Twig presented a check for $9,000.

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