Twig has been supporting Medina hospital for nearly 70 years

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 9 May 2021 at 5:59 pm

Group will have annual banquet on Monday after last year’s was cancelled due to Covid-19

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Seated during their recent meeting of Laurel Twig at the home of Ginny Roberts are, from left, Jan McCloy, Sue Metzo, Jean Sipple and Nelda Toussaint. Standing is Ginny Roberts.

MEDINA – For nearly seven decades, the TWIG organization has been a vibrant part of the Medina community and avid supporter of Medina Memorial Hospital.

But, like many other service organizations, it has fallen victim of the times – a generation which is not of a mindset to volunteer.

The organization, whose membership once neared 400, had dwindled to less than 70 at its 2019 banquet.

There was no banquet in 2020, due to Covid, but the membership has regrouped and decided to have their banquet this year on Monday night at Zambistro.

TWIG, which stands for “Together With Individual Goals,” began as a vision of Mrs. Donald Acer of Medina, who felt there was a need for a women’s organization at Medina Memorial Hospital. She sought advice from women who were members of Twig Associations in nearby communities. She learned that women from Rochester, where a Twig Association had flourished, along with the Albion Twig Association at Arnold Gregory Memorial Hospital, were most helpful in several areas to their hospitals.

It is interesting to note that women of that era were usually referred to by their husband’s name, not their own first name.

On March 16, 1953, Mrs. Acer and Mrs. John Wilkinson, with the approval of the Medina Memorial Hospital directors, called a meeting at the Elks Club for the purpose of organizing a Twig Association. About 50 women responded.

From this meeting grew a committee to draw up a constitution, chaired by Mrs. Hubbard White, and a nominating committee, chaired by Mrs. Gladys Walters.

By April of 1953, the Medina Memorial Hospital Association of Twigs was established under the leadership of Mrs. John E. Wilkinson, the first president. Other officers were Mrs. Horace Bird, 1st vice president; Mrs. D.J. Cleary Jr., 2nd vice president; Miss Margaret McCarthy, treasurer; and Miss Laura Dombrowski, secretary.

Eight original Twig groups were formed, totaling 75 members. They were Apple Blossom, Bittersweet, Cherry, Evergreen, Juniper, Linden, Oak Leaf and Silver Birch.

Their early activities included sewing and securing bed pads. Surgical stockings, bandages, glove covers, surgical sheets, curtains and pillows. The first major project was a Christmas party undertaken that year for hospital personnel in the hospital dining room. Twigs supplied all the food and decorations and served the meal.

Georgia Thomas, standing, hands out face masks she made for the members of Laurel Twig during their fall meeting. Seated at front are Carol Smith of Albion, left, and Carol Shafer of Middleport. At rear are Jan McCloy and Sue Metzo, both of Medina. Hostess Ginny Roberts stands in the doorway.

In 1954 it was suggested that each group form a new Twig to ensure growth, and four new groups evolved – Dogwood, Hawthorne, Holly and Plum. The Association’s treasury showed a balance of $350, which Twigs donated, starting what was to become the first of hundreds of thousands of dollars and an unending supply of hospital equipment.

In these early years, it was more common for each Twig branch to donate small equipment individually, such as ice pitchers, glasses, trays, stainless steel medicine trays, pictures, packages of patient tissues, ash trays, books for the library, baby foot printer, ice crushers, etc. A sewing machine donated in 1955 by Mrs. E.C. Rosenkrans was widely used and much appreciated.

At the suggestion of Mrs. Elizabeth Robbins in 1955, the first “coffee corner” for the public was set up in the Twig Room.

By 1956, Twig was already purchasing many fundamental medical supplies for the hospital, such as bandages, pads, basins, gowns, waste cans, service tables, towels, drapes, etc. The annual Christmas party continued to be totally funded by Twig until 1975.

A machine for dispensing drinks for public use was installed in the lobby, when in 1956, Medina Memorial Hospital was in the planning stages for two new wings to be added – a three-story front wing and a two-story rear wing. Olive Twig and Tulip Twig joined the association.

Twig added six new groups in 1957, Beech, Lilac, Magnolia, Jasmine, Willow and Locust and the association grew by 125 members. A cookie and candy dispensing machine was added to the lobby and Twig donated an incubator to the Maternity Ward at a cost of $273. They also pledged $600 to the hospital building fund. Magnolia Twig organized the first hospital benefit dance at the Elks Club, netting $550. The Volunteer Service Program began and decorative tray favors were made for hospital patients. Olive Twig raised $300 for the building fund through a public book review, and decided to fashion puppets to be given to children in the hospital.

In 1958-59, Azalea, Tupelo, Wisteria, Spruce, Forsythia, Laurel, Maple, Wiegela and Tamarack twigs were formed, giving the association 27 twigs and 337 members. A water flash warmer costing $490 was donated for the operating room, along with the Twigs building fund pledge.

Cinnamon and Rosamond Twigs joined the association in 1960, and magnolia and Oak Leaf combined memberships. Miss Katherine Brown chaired the first Twig Fair in October. It took place at Oak Orchard Elementary School and included a roast beef dinner. There were 19 booths and full support of 27 Twigs, netting a profit of $2,500.

A Mardi Gras ball in 1961 created a big sensation, netting $1,500. The association continued to support the hospital with its purchase of equipment such as plastic bassinets for the nursery and two recovery room stretchers. A silver tea service was presented to the hospital in 1962 as a memorial to Miss Estelle Douglas, the first hospital administrator. Twigs made a donation of $3,000 to establish a physical therapy department.

The fundraising events, donations and projects supported by the Twig Association grew to be far too numerous to continue naming them all. It can be said, however, the Twig Association continued until just a few years ago to raise money by their individual projects, sponsor the hospital Christmas party, provide tray favors and puppets for patients, volunteer their services at the Greeter Desk and Reception Desk (saving the hospital thousands of dollars yearly) providing a hospitality room and attending to tons of mending and sewing of hospital linens.

When the hospital undertook a major renovation, the Twig Association pledged $100,000 for the new birthing wing, which was named for the association.

On Sunday, Aug. 10, 1969, Medina’s Twig Association earned prominent mention in The New York Times. The newspaper carried a feature story on Medina’s organization and its use of the term “twig” instead of the more usual guild, auxiliary or league. The story also mentioned the use of flowering shrubs as names for the individual groups.

In the 1965, Wildwood Twig was established for those members who were only interested in the volunteer aspect of Twig and required no monthly meetings. Volunteer service awards were initiated in 1959 when Mrs. Thomas Hickey received the first 100-hour pin. Since that time, endless awards have been presented at the annual banquet for accumulative hours of service, many numbering in the thousands. At its annual volunteer luncheon celebrating Twig’s 25th anniversary, it was reported volunteers over the years had given an estimated 63,500 hours.

In 1969, a newly remodeled Gift Shop and Snack Bar were opened. In 1974, the Gift Shop was expanded into the main hall of the hospital, where it continued to be a major source of funding for the Twig Association until approximately three years ago when it closed due to lack of volunteers. The Gift Shop annually earned an estimated $20,000, which the Twig presented to the hospital CEO each year at the banquet.

By 1979, when Mrs. White retired as Volunteer Services director, the Twigs were responsible for the Reception Desk, Gift Shop, Snack Bar, Gift Cart, Central Supply and Sewing.

By the late 1960s, some of the original Twig  groups had disbanded, mainly due to the health and age of their members. In the 1970s, Oak Twig joined the association. By now Twig had begun purchasing larger pieces of equipment for the hospital, such as a surgical lift, operating table ($6,000), proctoscopic table, obstetrical table ($4,300) and mammography X-ray equipment ($25,000).

Dogwood and Honeysuckle Twigs were formed in 1973 and Maple, Ming and Willow joined in 1976. Bayberry formed in 1977 and Hydrangea joined in 1978. Twig added some community education services, such as hospital tours for elementary school children in 1973 and expectant parent classes in 1975, instructed by Jeanne Crane. In 1977, they started sewing and stuffing Christmas stockings for all the patients, a project Laurel Twig continues today.

The newest Twig to be formed was Lilac, as the result of a Twig board meeting Sept. 25, 2004.

On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, the Twig Association had 20 Twigs totaling 273 members.

As of the last banquet on May 6, 2019, only 11 Twigs remained, with a total membership of 66. Of those, only Laurel still has regular meetings, although membership has dwindled to eight or nine who attend. In 1996, Laurel had 25 members.

Ginny Roberts of Medina has been president of Laurel Twig for many years, and Carol Shafer of Middleport remains secretary/treasurer. They have shortened their year, choosing to meet September through December and in June for a picnic. That is in addition to the annual spring banquet which this year is May 10.

Nelda Toussaint is one of the longest standing members of Laurel Twig. She joined, she said, when her son Jeff was a year old and she was looking for something to do to get out of the house at night. Other original members were Arden Dick, Eileen Incho and Jackie Kaldon.

“It was a big group,” Toussaint said. “Arden and I brought Ginny in.”

Original activities included card parties, big dances and fashion shows.

The lack of volunteers resulted in closing the Gift Shop several years ago, thereby ending the Twig’s biggest money maker. They still have a balance in their bank account, from which they continue to make gifts to the hospital.