The Barton Hospital Auxiliary to celebrate 50 years in community |

The Barton Hospital Auxiliary to celebrate 50 years in community

Roseann Keegan
Roseann Keegan / Tahoe Daily TribunePatty Olson, 85, shows a page from the Dec. 16, 1985, issue of the Tahoe Daily Tribune featuring the Barton Auxiliary's holiday gala to benefit Barton Memorial Hospital.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The committee that helped fund and build Barton Memorial Hospital was created during a tea party thrown for local women.

In a Nov. 16, 1960, article in the Tahoe Sierra Tribune’s “World of Women” section, the Barton Hospital committee announced a tea party at the Tahoe Sands Gourmet Room for all women in the Lake Tahoe area interested in forming or joining a women’s hospital auxiliary.

The group formed and successfully raised funds to pay the hospital’s first payroll in 1963. The hospital was built on a six-acre site donated by Alva Barton and Faye Ledbetter.

Next month, the auxiliary will celebrate 50 years of contributions to Barton Memorial Hospital.

“We all got together to build a hospital,” said 85-year-old Patty Olson, one of the original members of the auxiliary. “We didn’t have a lot of people or money, but we did have time.”

In the 1960s, the auxiliary was the only women’s group in South Lake Tahoe, Olson said.

“So everybody who moved here joined the auxiliary,” Olson said. “We did really, really neat things.”

The auxiliary hosted fancy fashion shows at Harrah’s South Shore room featuring cocktail gowns from Saks Fifth Avenue. They crafted pine cone wreaths for fundraisers and staged full-scale winter productions.

In July 1961, the auxiliary opened The Attic, a thrift shop to help raise money for the hospital. Founding auxiliary president Eleanor Killebrew Brown (then Eleanor Gianotti) gathered ideas by visiting the Sutter Hospital auxiliary store in Sacramento and the Junior League’s store in San Francisco.

The original thrift shop was literally in the attic of the “Wash-M-Well” Laundromat on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, in the current Chevys restaurant location. The Laundromat was owned by the Gianottis and Jeanne and Fred Corfee. After the store was destroyed by fire, it was housed in several different locations. The current location is 970 Lodi Ave.

Last year, the auxiliary gave $300,000 to the hospital from sales from The Attic, the hospital gift shop, the holiday craft faire and other fundraising events.

“The auxiliary volunteers are really priceless when it comes down to it,” said Angela Moniot, marketing specialist for Barton Health. “They’re essential and provide a huge service – assisting in the skilled nursing facility, they operate the gift shop, help staff the lobby and operate The Attic Thrift Shop, the most important and largest money maker for the auxiliary.”

There are more than 55 active volunteers within the auxiliary, who also help with blood drives and bi-monthly blood pressure clinics. The auxiliary is approaching 45 years of hosting blood drives in the community. Dan Kerr, current auxiliary president, said he will soon donate his 200th unit of blood.

“The auxiliary raised the first dollars,” Kerr said. “We made payroll for the hospital.”

Today, the Barton Foundation is the main fundraising entity for the hospital. But the auxiliary is still making a big impact. Kerr recalls handing off a check for $406,000 a few years ago.

The auxiliary is hosting a 50th anniversary party at Edgewood Tahoe Sept. 20. The public is welcome. The event will bring together former and current auxiliary members, as well as former and current doctors and administrators. The committee is seeking old newspaper clippings, programs and memorabilia. For information, call 530-544-2449.

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