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MCV Hospitals Auxiliary receives award for fundraising, volunteerism



By Leha Byrd
University Public Affairs
 In 1961, the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals Auxiliary raised money for MCV Hospitals through bake sales and yard sales. Back then the auxiliary’s co-founder, Hester Abbott, dreamed of having a gift shop that could also give its proceeds to the hospital.

Now, almost 60 years later, the Three Bears Gift Shop, located on the first floor of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center’s Critical Care Hospital, is owned and operated by MCV Hospitals Auxiliary. The gift shop’s proceeds fund patient care projects and grant programs for VCU Health, and is just one of several of the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary’s fundraising engines.

“It’s far beyond my dreams.”

“Our dreams have come true,” said Abbott, now 101. “I find it hard to say what it means to see the growth and all the wonderful things done with this money. It’s impossible to realize what they’ve done. It’s far beyond my dreams.”

Petite and proud, Abbott was in attendance Oct. 5 in the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU pavilion where the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary received a Special Award for Volunteer Leadership from the MCV Foundation. The honor was, in part, recognition of the group’s ongoing philanthropy efforts — which have raised more than $6.2 million for various programs throughout VCU Health over the years — as well as the group’s contributions through volunteerism and community engagement. In addition to awarding annual grants to support numerous creative and patient-centered ideas, the auxiliary has made long-term gifts and has established programs like the Community Health Education Center at VCU Health.

This is the first time the MCV Foundation has presented an award of this nature to a group, but the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary’s track record of fundraising was stellar, said Margaret Ann Bollmeier, MCVF president.

“This special award was given to MCV Hospitals Auxiliary for its exemplary leadership, philanthropy and dedicated service to patients and their families,” she said.

VCU Health System nominated the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary for the award, citing its fundraising efforts through the Three Bears Gift Shop, the annual Love Lights sale and other charitable events like Dancing with the Richmond Stars, which benefits CHoR. The MCV Hospitals Auxiliary has also spearheaded fundraising efforts to benefit various departments throughout VCU Health, including a $500,000 grant toward the renovation of the VCU Medical Center Mother-Infant unit, and $150,000 raised to benefit the Critical Care Hospital.

The MCV Hospitals Auxiliary on average provides 15,000 volunteer hours each year. Members do everything from raising money to helping visitors navigate hospital hallways. The group’s compassion toward those it serves is as important as the financial contributions it provides, said Ginny Little, president of the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary.

“Anything we can do to help support a positive patient experience, we’re grateful to be able to serve in that manner,” she said.  “Volunteerism is such a needed thing in so many areas of this world, particularly in health care.”

Like Little, all 250 members of the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary are volunteers and many were drawn to volunteerism through a personal experience at the hospital. Eight years ago, Little was diagnosed with breast cancer and received treatment at VCU Massey Cancer Center. Because of the exceptional treatment she received there, she was moved to volunteer.

“I wanted to give back,” she said.Staff from the Virginia Treatment Center for Children spoke at the award presentation in anticipation of the new VTCC location, which will be at the CHoR Brook Road Campus. MCV Hospitals Auxiliary raised $192,000 for the VTCC project through the 2014 and 2015 Dancing with the Richmond Stars events. Portions of that funding went to create a specialized autism assessment clinic and to the Children’s Mental Health Resource Center where parents receive referral and information along with support for their child’s mental health needs.

The current VTCC building, on N. 10th St. in Richmond, dates to the 1950s. The new facility will have 32 single, inpatient acute psychiatric beds, increased research and training space and a multi-purpose gym/auditorium.

“This [facility] will transform how children and their families are dealing with their crisis issues and developmental needs,” said Alexandria “Sandy” Lewis, Ed.D., director of VTCC. “We’re thankful for the MCV Hospitals Auxiliary’s effort to help move this project forward, which helps us better serve this population.”

Little said the auxiliary will continue to look for ways to support initiatives throughout the hospital. The new gift shop in the CHoR pavilion, River City Treasures, recently opened and, like Three Bears Gift Shop, its proceeds will serve the hospital through patient care projects and grant programs.

“We are very thankful for this recognition and receiving this award,” she said. “This is motivation to continue doing what we have been doing for many years.”


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