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Lee Memorial Auxiliary celebrates 60th anniversary

By Staff | Oct 25, 2010

Meghan McCoy The Classic Four, a barbershop quartet, made a special appearance during the Lee Memorial Auxiliary’s 60th birthday party at HealthPark Monday afternoon.

A special birthday celebration and dedication of a new piano was held Monday afternoon in honor of the Lee Memorial Auxiliary’s 60th birthday.
A group of 30 women got together and donated $1,200 in 1950 and formed what is now the Lee Memorial Auxiliary. That auxiliary, which, at that time, was comprised of all women, has grown to 900 men and women who have donated almost $6 million to the Lee Memorial Health System.
Lee Memorial Health System President Jim Nathan said the auxiliary is key element of the health system.
“They are vital to our community,” he said.
Nathan said the group of women who formed the Auxiliary 60 years ago has grown, which means they are doing something right.
The new piano was donated by the Lee Memorial Auxiliary to the Arts in Healthcare program. The first piano, which was dedicated and donated in October 1992 by the auxiliary, lasted for 18 years.
“We welcome music in this healing setting through this beautiful piano,” the Rev. Cynthia Brasher said during the dedication. “Today I offer a blessing, lifted up with all of our hopes. May the keys of this instrument touch the souls of many in times of joy and times of sorrow.”
Coordinator Sonia Arledge-Lomano introduced the Arts in Healthcare program into the Lee Memorial Health System in 1997, after she initially implemented a similar program in Alabama. The program offers visual arts, storytelling and poetry, music, art by the disABLED and clowns into healthcare.
There are currently 15 volunteers who play the piano at least once a week at HealthPark.
“We have a really dedicated group,” Arledge-Lomano said, adding that the music is “so therapeutic, it eases stress and anxiety.”
When the group of volunteers are not playing the piano, the music continues to fill the air of the hospital by a special remote. The remote control allows various types and volumes of music to be heard all the way up to the third floor of the hospital.
Ruth Berry, who is among the many dedicated volunteers at HealthPark, has provided her service for the past 3 1/2 years. She volunteers her time playing the piano for about two hours every Friday.
After Berry witnessed the piano sitting without anyone playing music on it, along with her love of playing since she was a young girl encouraged her to volunteer her time once a week.
“The children” and their fascination with the piano is what Berry enjoys the most of her experience.
A volunteer of 10 years has provided more than 1,300 hours playing the piano at HealthPark. Sally Prouty began playing the piano when she was 3 years old and has made music apart of her life ever since.
Her joy of playing at the hospital comes from “the satisfaction of being able to bring comfort to the people that come by” while she is playing the piano.
Prouty said it has been a very rewarding experience to play the piano every day around 5 p.m. for the past 10 years because she has run the gamut of every emotion.
“I love every minute of it here,” she said.
Board member Dawson McDaniel said the volunteers who give up their time and talent of playing the piano is a great service for the community and a great way to give their talent back.
“It touches the individuals that are here,” McDdaniel said. “Music is therapy, it soothes a child and calms nerves.”
In addition to the dedication, a special celebration was also held Monday afternoon in honor of the Lee Memorial Auxiliary’s 60th birthday. The party included cake, ice cream, popcorn, little bottles of Coke and a special surprise by a barbershop quartet who sang various songs from the 1950s.
Lee Memorial Auxiliary President Al Kinkle said it is all about giving back to the community and making a difference in people’s lives.
“These are great people,” he said while looking around the room at all the auxiliarians. “This is what life is about.”