Stoop labor, a pony show and a doll dressed in $1 bills.
|Members sign on as guild members (above) at the founding tea on March 27, 1954. The bottom right photo shows the hospital guild’s service cart, an early innovation that continues in existence to this day, traveling between patient rooms. At bottom left is ‘Guildy’ the doll dressed in $1 bills and ready to be raffled off as a fundraiser in the early years. Photo identifications not available. (Photo provided)
There isn't much the good women of Wood County weren't willing to do 60 years ago to help ensure the success of the Wood County Hospital, a showcase facility that had just opened its doors three years earlier, in 1951.
The Wood County Hospital Guild formally got its start on March 27, 1954 at a opening membership tea attended by over 600 women sporting hats, brooches and, of course, white gloves.
Norma Barr and Mary Myers Fuelber, the guild's two surviving founders, vividly recall the event.
"That first meeting was a huge success. The women of Wood County really responded, with an effort that is still flourishing today," praised Fuelber, 95.
The hospital was founded with the direction of a steering committee made up of the local Medical Auxiliary of doctors' wives, and the Executive Board of the Bowling Green Women's Club.
"At that time I was president of the Women's Club," Fuelber said, so she was at ground zero of efforts to create a hospital guild.
The original modest group divided the county into sections and fanned out "to recruit 100 women who were all the key women in their local communities."
Those women, in turn, promoted the new guild so heavily that the opening tea was a delightful crush.
The result was, and still is, a group notable for its energy and unflagging creativity.
The guild's Gardening Group planted three bushels of daffodil bulbs around the hospital grounds. There was a fashion show fundraiser including multiple bridal gowns and a cake and punch reception.
Barr, 88, still has to smile at some of the other early ways the guild worked to raise money.
"We tried everything to gauge people's interests. We had a 'Guildy doll.' We pinned $1 bills all over her and sold tickets for the chance to win her," first displaying the doll at the hospital and taking her around to local businesses to help drum up raffle ticket sales before finally letting her go to her lucky new winner at a Fall Festival at City Park.
One year, early on, "we staffed a horse and pony show at the (Wood County) Fairgrounds," said Barr, with guild members spending the entire day - dawn until sunset - tending the gate.
"The most anybody got out of it was a sunburn."
The guild made no money from the show and that particular fundraiser was never repeated.
Barr is particularly proud of one of the early projects instituted by the guild, the introduction of a service cart that a guild volunteer wheeled around to the patient rooms in the hospital.
The cart, with loaded items like candy, gum, nail polish and popular magazines, was much appreciated "in the old days when patents stayed for days and weeks on end."
Ironically, that same 1950s cart remains is still being wheeled into patient rooms today, notes Barr's daughter, Laurie Newlove, the hospital's current director of volunteers and Lifeline Services.
Both Barr and Fuelber are especially proud that the guild was able to get the hospital gift shop up and running, a project that came to fruition in 1963.
Five decades later, the first-floor gift shop has expanded and is flourishing, "featuring a wide array of products in an attractive setting," said Fuelber, still sounding like a successful saleswoman.
Fuelber, the guild's original program chairman, recalls the hours of devoted service the volunteers gave within the hospital itself.
"Our color was 'cheery cherry red.' Our volunteers all wore cheery cherry red smocks," she said of the first uniform.
She recalls, too, being part of a small group of guild members who "had a singing group from the Women's Club, who went caroling through the hospital that first Christmas.
"That was very well received" by the patients. "We sang Deck the Halls, Silent Night, and Ding Dong Merrily on High."
Newlove practically grew up with the guild, following in her mother's footsteps, and was formally involved by the time she graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1982.
She returned to her hometown after two years spent attending Otterbein College. "I remember that was when the first home tour was held: 1979."
Newlove served two different stints as guild president and can easily relate to the fundraising challenges her mother took on, because they continued in the new era.
"Remember the variety show 'Just For Kicks'? I was pregnant with Lindsey at the time," she said. "That was pretty crazy."
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of her era is also the most recent - the opening of the hospital's new Women's Center.
"The opportunity to get those annual tests done in a single location. That is so easy and so convenient. And everyone who works there is so nice."
In total the guild raised $150,000 over five years for the Women's Center.
Newlove is happy to note that the guild's current membership is 600 - with both males and females included in that number. The total is equal to that gratifyingly huge turnout at the first membership tea in 1954.
The core of active members is smaller, of course, but after 60 years "I'm most proud of the fact that the guild has stayed intact, and continued to grow during all these years."
It's no small feat in an era when most women work outside the home and have fewer hours available for extracurricular activities.
Many other hospitals have a similar organization, Newlove admitted, although "nearly all of them are called auxiliaries, not guilds. But frankly, ours is one of the healthiest" in terms of retaining members and the scope of the projects taken on.
"The fact that it's a community-based hospital plays into it too," she said of the Wood County Hospital Guild's success after six decades.