By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
Lourdes Hospital Auxiliary works to raise funds to match construction grant
Binghamton — Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is one place to get a “real” hot fudge sundae. People have been known to stop by the hospital just for the taste of the sundaes at the Gift and Sweet Shop. But there’s another draw to the shop and it’s not just cards and flowers. Multi-colored glass shades catch the eyes of visitors through the shop’s windows just off the atrium entrance. “It’s become a high-end boutique. It’s truly not a little hospital gift shop anymore. We have $500 lamps in there now. We had 27, we’re down to five,” said Shirley Tamulis, president of the Lourdes Hospital Auxiliary. “You know, we’re a group of women who make this kind of money from the gift shop and café,” Tamulis added “We usually net over $50,000 a year.” The shop is for hospital visitors, staff and some from the outside looking for a unique place to shop. Tamulis noted the shop is the only one of this kind in this area. The profits are going to a good cause.
The auxiliary has made a $1 million pledge to the hospital for a variety of projects, including a three-story oncology center that’s now under construction. They’re presenting checks in a series of installments, the most recent one for $25,000 at the Harvest Dinner on October 23. “We started out with a $400,000 pledge and then we raised it to a half-million dollar pledge,” Tamulis said. “Then we found out the hospital was having some problems with the matching grant from the Decker Foundation. And even if they fell short by a dollar, they wouldn’t get the other half million dollars. So we were going to raise it to $750,000 and that would put them over the top. And then we sort of connived a bit and said let’s just make it a million.”
“I just believe that the hospital is where it is because of the volunteers we have and the women that are in the auxiliary,” said auxiliary member Louise Neff. “People don’t realize the ideas that are formed in the auxiliary to earn money for the hospital.” Funds also come from the annual Lourdes Ball, which raised more than $75,000 last year. The auxiliary also receives money from pictures of newborns, hospital vending machines and jewelry and book sales. Six staff members and a consultant are paid by the auxiliary, but they rely heavily on hospital volunteers, who are ready to assist in many ways.
The auxiliary has 250 members right now, with some younger women with children joining the ranks. Many of the younger women got involved just to help with the Annual Lourdes Ball. “You know what frightens people?“ Neff asked. “They’re going to be asked to work if they are a member. If they can’t do anything but pay their membership dues, that’s okay.” The latest project for the auxiliary is paying for information packets to spread the word on organ donation. It’s a project that Tamulis estimates will last several years. Tamulis, who has been involved in the auxiliary since 1991, has a simple vision for the future of the organization. “I think the function of the auxiliary is to utilize whatever finances we have, even if it means divesting ourselves of every penny, if a special need comes up that’s critical to the well-being of Lourdes Hospital,” she said.