As a parting gift, the recently dissolved Stanford University Medical Center Auxiliary contributed $525,000 to the Auxiliary Art Fund in June. The fund will help create an art space in the atrium of the new hospital, including a sculpture by Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David.
An eight-member planning committee allocated assets and chose the gift after meeting every Friday from September 2014 to March 2015.
"We liked the idea of art because many of us love art," said Auxiliary President Françoise Miller. "The art space will be a good place for patients and families, and it keeps the Auxiliary alive in some ways."
The nonprofit volunteer organization, which was founded in 1929 to serve the old Palo Alto Hospital, voted to dissolve in 2015 after losing hospital support. It held its last annual meeting Feb. 28 at the Stanford Faculty Club and featured a display of photos and mementos from the groups 55-plus years of service. Fifteen members were recognized for their thousands of hours of service, including two 50-year members.
"Many people are upset, but it was a business decision by the hospital," Miller said. "Our organization was one of compassion, serving by being close to patients, family and staff."
When the Stanford University School of Medicine moved to its present location and the new hospital building opened in 1959, the group incorporated under California's nonprofit code. The group was dedicated to supporting and complementing "patient care and community service at Stanford University Medical Center by assisting patients, relatives and visitors in a responsible manner with compassion, devotion and courtesy," according to the organization's website.
Over the years, volunteers, including men and women of all ages, raised money to contribute gifts and equipment totaling more than $4.3 million, presented scholarships totaling almost $1 million to employees for continuing education and volunteered more than 3 million hours.
For members, the Auxiliary was a way to give back after spending time in the hospital themselves or tending to loved ones. After Miller's husband passed away, she joined the organization in 2003 to give back through her accounting skills. She volunteered in the gift shop, surgery center and office, and helped with scholarships for students pursuing medical fields.
The rapidly changing nature of hospitals, loss of office space, and lack of steady volunteers and finances contributed to the group's end. The Auxiliary lost nearly half its active membership in 2006 when the hospital took over the volunteer-run gift shop, Miller said. At the end, the group had 66 active members.
Volunteers could continue to serve through guest services, but many stopped volunteering or instead started helping at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital or Stanford Cancer Center, Miller said.
The group has about $75,000 left in funds that it will distribute through the Department of Social Services by the end of July.