Lynn White, during a recent conversation, mentioned TWIG 13’s annual fundraising sale. Lynn, Mercy Hospital Director of Volunteer/Auxiliary Services from 1987 to 2015, described the $5 jewelry and accessory sale taking place on December 5 at the hospital.
Even more interesting to me were nuggets of information Lynn sprinkled through our discussion about TWIG 13 itself and what this group has meant to Champaign Country for lots of years. She even supplied research and recollections from her experiences and interactions with Terrific Women In Giving, expanded in 1964 to Together With Important Goals.
The seeds that eventually grew into TWIG 13 were planted in 1946 in the form of the Mercy Memorial Hospital guild, organized to aid the new Mercy Memorial Hospital.
Led by their president, Mrs. Joseph Brand, and co-president, Mrs. Richard Donohoe, a virtual army of local ladies made it their mission to raise money for the hospital long before its doors opened in 1951.
Open to “any person in Champaign County interested” with dues of $1 a year, the Guild formed six circles: Our Lady, Little Flower, St. Mary, Sacred Heart, Willing Workers, and one unnamed circle. Through paper drives, bake sales, rummage sales, collection of sales tax stamps, silver teas, card parties, and bingo games, funds were raised to help the hospital provide for those needing health care in Champaign County and the surrounding area.
They also sewed and mended; it is this part of the group’s legacy I found particularly interesting. In 1950 the owners of the Douglas Hotel donated the use of a hotel room to house four Singer sewing machines for afternoon and evening sewing. Before the hospital opened, Guild members used their funds, their skills and their time to transform muslin, toweling, and thread into 3,000 donated pieces and 5,500 pieces thereafter. The sewing machines were eventually moved to the Housekeeper’s room at the hospital, where sewing by the various circles continued.
As 1958 rolled around, guilds from throughout the hospital reorganized to include a large group of new members. Facilitated by Mrs. Stultz as temporary chairman and Mildred Mateer as new chairman, the group joined forces with Sister Mary Leonard and Sister Clara.
Sister Mary Leonard, with her welcoming, appreciative spirit, kept the group informed of daily hospital operation, ongoing problems, and plans for the upcoming opening of the new hospital wing.
By then, the various volunteer organizations went by the name of TWIG. The new group chose to add 13 to its title – to commemorate its original 13 members.
TWIG 13 continued its work to benefit community health care. During the celebration of Mercy Memorial Hospital’s 50th anniversary in 2001, TWIG 13 posted a history that included a partial list of their donations over the years: “special chairs for patients, toys and books for the pediatric department, diabetes teaching tapes, a video camera and tripod, monetary donations to the Ruth Lyons fund and the Well Child Clinic, self-learning software for CPR, TV and radio, funds to Med Assist, baby changing tables in restrooms, a special high chair for the cafeteria, and many other items, large and small, needed by various departments.” In addition to these donations, large numbers of TWIG 13 members served many volunteer hours in the hospital.
Times, of course, change as do needs and methods. From the highwater mark in 1964 when membership rolls listed 130 names, there has been a decline in members. As the number of not-for-profit businesses increased and scattered the dedication from a single type of healthcare to a more diverse dedication to help Champaign Countians, TWIG 13 has remained steadfast in its desire to aid all in need at Mercy Health, Urbana Hospital and Mercy McAuley Center.
TWIG 13 has continued to raise funds for the hospital and care center with $5 jewelry sales, bulb and flower sales, luncheon/style shows, uniform sales, and An Evening in the Garden with TWIG. Between 2000 and 2014, TWIG 13 donated well over $40,000 to Mercy Memorial Hospital and Mercy McAuley Center for equipment including wheelchairs and an IV infusion chair, a pondless waterfall for the McAuley Center courtyard, Well Child/Pediatric psychotherapy toys, and the cardiac alert program, among others. Quite a change from the first donation of $70 in 1952!
One of TWIG 13’s favorite programs is Mercy Health Med Assist. Med Assist and Med Assist Plus made sure needed medicine is available to low income families who are uninsured, underinsured, or do not qualify for Medicaid and often face choosing between the purchase of medication of covering other essential costs. Med Assist monies are earmarked to fill the gaps when other sources fail to meet medication costs.
I am personally pleased to have become acquainted with TWIG 13 and its important contributions, past and present. I plan to accept the invitation of Jan Murphy, current president, to join for dues of $10 per year – although I will opt for a lifetime membership for one donation of $100. I already feel welcome when Jan assures that my involvement of time and talent is up to me.
And I urge everyone to stop by the outpatient registration area, ground level at the hospital, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on December 5. Take the opportunity to enjoy a holiday shopping experience with TWIG 13’s $5 jewelry and accessory offerings – with proceeds benefiting Mercy Health, Urbana Hospital and Mercy McAuley Center. Shoppers will be giving back to those in need.
My great thanks to Lynn White for her inspiration and help with article!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English andGerman from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 shecoordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.