Active in Guttenberg GMH Auxiliary gives generously

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Hospital and clinic staff are regular customers at the GMH Auxiliary gift shop. The Auxiliary provides volunteers for the gift shop, as well as raising funds for community and hospital needs. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

Editor’s note: As a Guttenberg native and a member of Guttenberg Development & Tourism, there’s nothing more exciting to me than someone who proclaims, “There’s nothing to do in Guttenberg!” Life here may not be fast-paced, but there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, meet great people, and enjoy living - and I'm always eager to pass that knowledge on. This story is one of a series planned to highlight local groups and organizations that welcome members of the community and enhance our city’s culture. If you would like your group to be featured, please contact The Guttenberg Press. 

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With just eight meetings per year, one local service group manages to give approximately $7500 annually to those in need – while also providing something to its members. “It’s good for your disposition; it makes you happy,” said Dorothy Wille, current president of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital (GMH) Auxiliary. “You’re helping people and meeting people.” 

The GMH Auxiliary has around 63 members who each pay $15 in annual dues. The group hosts numerous fundraisers throughout the year and also assists with the hospital gift shop. The reach of the Auxiliary’s generous giving is, frankly, astounding.

“Most recently, we gave $300 to Clayton Ridge and $100 to St. Mary’s schools for Red Ribbon Week presentations,” said Wille. “We give to Shepherd of the Hills, of course, and for the giving trees at Christmas time.” The group donates to the local after prom party, supports womenade, and gives gift certificates to the gift shop for every baby born at the hospital. In early 2015, the group also awarded $500 scholarships to Taylor Fassbinder, who graduated from the University of Iowa nursing program in May, and Brenna Heying, who will graduate in 2017 from the University of Dubuque with a BSN. “It is possible to have up to six scholarships a year that we give out. Anybody in the community that has started their medical education may apply,” said Janette Hansel, Auxiliary treasurer. “You can also reapply for a second scholarship.”

The group’s true mission is to support the hospital and its staff by honoring requests for unbudgeted equipment presented at monthly meetings. This year, the Auxiliary purchased bowel resection tools for the surgery department as well as a bariatric leg support and pad for the x-ray department. “We recently had a request to help pay for a new treadmill for the rehab department,” said Hansel. In 2015, the auxiliary gave out an estimated $7500 in total, about half to community projects and half to the hospital.

The GMH Auxiliary funds those gifts with drives like their annual cookie walk, which raised over $1000 last month. They also host periodic taco bars for hospital staff and families of patients, make Easter baskets for the community, sell cookbooks, participate in citywide garage sales, and provide help for the hospital gift shop. Twice each year, half of the profits from the gift shop are given to the Auxiliary. 

For each of the five days per week the gift shop is open, three shifts of volunteers are needed to help customers and keep an eye on things. “We have around 36 volunteers who help in the gift shop, and not all of them are Auxiliary members,” said Wille. With snowbirds heading south for the winter, new faces are needed to fill in throughout the week. 

For the Christmas season, the GMH Auxiliary Gift Shop is giving way free GMH totes to anyone who spends over $25. The totes come with a single-use coupon for 20% off another purchase. “Our best customers are the hospital and Cornerstone employees, and the community,” Wille told The Press. “Thanks to them, we are able to keep helping the hospital with needed items.”

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