Nearly 60 years ago when the Jefferson County Health Center Auxiliary was started, it was run by a group of wives that decided that they needed to help the health center.
They began hosting coffee times in their homes. Over the last six decades, the auxiliary has been a group of men and women with the goal of, ?supporting the hospital any way we can.?
Their motto is to provide support, whether it be monetarily or with manpower, and they have done that and more by giving out $18,000 worth of scholarships every year in $1,500 increments to students pursuing a health-related field, whether it be a dietician, nurse, physical therapist or any related field.
Susan Muntz, president of the Jefferson County Health Center Auxiliary, grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Van Buren High School in 1971 but moved away to Kansas for 13 years before returning to her roots in the Fairfield area. She spent 23 years with the Department of Human Services and feels that giving back is key.
?It?s a life-enriching thing that everybody should have in their life.?
The sum of the groups? talents help fill the gaps the hospital needs covered to operate.
?The auxiliary runs the Gift Shop in the hospital with 100 percent of manpower coming from volunteers, including the manager, with close to 40 people filling those 250 hours that the Gift Shop is open each month. We also run Bargain Box which is a resale store where everything is donated. We pay that manager, but everybody that works there is a volunteer as well.?
The group currently has about 300 members, and to be a volunteer, you must join the auxiliary which costs $10 a year.
At its peak of community involvement, Muntz said that there were nearly 900 members to help with events such as their yearly jewelry sale fundraiser.
The money raised goes to good use, as the auxiliary was able to donate over $300,000 in equiptment in 2009 when the hospital moved to its new building. They have also helped with projects big and small, including the emblem on the floor at the hospital?s entrance along with a book cart that patients can choose reading materials from.
?Recently, we helped pay for the new AED equiptment that?s in the Emergency Room which is a defibrilator that helps patients with heart issues,? Muntz said. ?They also have them at the courthouse and the schools. I don?t know that the hospital would do it without us, but they ask for our help and we do as much as we can.?
New members needed
It?s not all work for the group that?s always looking for new members. They hold a yearly member appreciation tea party, and also pick a secret Valentine during February and exchange small gifts and flowers.
Like any group, membership is aging and Muntz said ?It?s harder to get volunteers for the gift shop and the Bargain Box.? If a
current member brings in a new member, they will each get a 50 percent off coupon for the hospital gift shop or the bargain box.
Muntz? husband is an electrician who helped on the electrical work at the bargain box and they also had a carpenter volunteer on the upgrades there as well. Others help with our advertising and there are a lot of talented people in Fairfield whome we call on frequently for various things. ?We?re always looking for talented people,? added Muntz.
Muntz is also aware that a better facility makes the community healthier.
?We have a lot of specialists that come from Iowa City that save patients that drive. Our hospital is also very quick to update their equiptment and with the new addition they installed new MRI equiptment as well. Anytime they have a new item they want help with, they ask us and if we?re able to help, we do. We should be able to help more now that we?ve moved the Bargain Box to a less expensive space which will give us more income from that. We were limited because of the rent and utility bills at the previous location.
A minimum shift of three hours once a month is all that is needed to volunteer with the JCHCA.
Muntz said, ?I work Thursdays at the gift shop from noon to 3 P.M. which works for me or others work at times scattered around the month so they get a variety. We have members that are strictly substitutes and are just on-call in case someone gets sick. We need and take all kinds of community support.