Twigs, long-time supporters of Medina hospital, officially dissolve

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 23 June 2023 at 12:44 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Jeanne Crane, president of the Medina Memorial Hospital’s Association of Twigs, talks to members at their annual luncheon in May at Zambistro’s Restaurant. After a discussion, the membership voted to dissolve the organization, which has been in existence for more than 70 years.

MEDINA – The decision to dissolve the Association of Twigs brings to an end the organization with a 70-year history of supporting Medina Memorial Hospital.

At their annual luncheon in May at Zambistro’s Restaurant, the barely two dozen members in attendance began to discuss what to do with the money remaining in their treasury.

It became evident that with no major way to raise money, it made sense to give the hospital their remaining balance to use as they needed it and dissolve the organization. The decision was unanimous.

The Twigs, whose membership once numbered more than 400, had dwindled to 70 at its last banquet in 2019 and 40 at its May luncheon.

Twig, which stands for Together With Individual Goals, was founded in 1953 as a vision of Mrs. Donald Acer of Medina, who felt there should be a women’s organization at Medina Memorial Hospital. She sought advice from women who were members of existing Twig Associations in Rochester and at Arnold Gregory Memorial Hospital in Albion.

In those days, women were often referred to by their husband’s name, not their own first name.

On March 16, 1953, Mrs. Acer and Mrs. John Wilkins, with the approval of Medina Memorial Hospital directors, called a meeting at the Elks Club for the purpose of establishing a Twig Association. Fifty women responded. By April, the Medina Association of Twigs had been established with Mrs. John E. Wilkinson as its first president.

Eight original Twig branches were formed, Apple Blossom, Bittersweet, Cherry, Evergreen, Juniper, Linden, Oak Leaf and Silver Birch.

Early projects were securing bedpans and sewing surgical stockings, bandages, glove covers, surgical sheets, curtains and pillows. The first major event was a Christmas party that year in the hospital dining room for personnel. Twigs supplied all the food and decorations and served the meal.

More groups continued to form during the following years, and by 1958-59, there were 27 branches and a total membership of 337.

In 1956 the Twig Association’s treasury had a balance of $350, which they donated to the hospital, starting what was to become an annual tradition of donating profits from fundraisers to the hospital. Through the years, Twig donations numbered into the hundreds of thousands.

In the early years, it was customary for each Twig branch to donate small items 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.

It is not known when Twigs took over the Gift Shop, but it became a major source of revenue, resulting in annual donations of $20,000 to the hospital.

By 1960, two new branches had formed, one, Cinnamon, was started for women from Lyndonville with Ellie Whipple as chair. Total branches were now 29.

Through the years, Twig branches continued to raise money through 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 annually), provide a hospitality room and attend to tons of mending and sewing of hospital linens.

When a new birthing wing was established, Twig donated $100,000, resulting in it being named the Twig Birthing Wing.

In 1968, one new branch, Wildwood, was formed strictly for members who were only interested in the volunteer aspect and required no monthly meetings.

At its 25th anniversary celebration, it was reported Twig volunteers had given an estimated 63,500 hours to the hospital.

The Gift Shop flourished and was expanded in 1974. It closed in 2018 due to lack of volunteers.

By 1979, the Twigs were responsible for the Reception Desk, Greeter Desk, Gift Shop, Snack Shop, Gift Cart, Central Supply and sewing.

Twig branches began to disband in the late 1960s, due to the health and aging of their members.

In the 1970s, Twig began purchasing larger pieces of equipment for the hospital and undertaking projects such as the lobby renovation. A surgical lift, operating table, proctoscopic table, obstetrical table and mammography X-ray equipment (valued at $25,000) were some of the donations.

As of the last banquet in 2019, only 11 Twig branches remained, with a total membership of 66. Only Laurel Twig continued to have regular meetings, although only eight or nine attended of the original 25 members.

Nelda Toussaint of Medina was one of Twig’s longest standing members. She joined when her son Jeff was a year old and she was looking for something to do to get out of the house at night.

When the Gift Shop closed, Twigs lost their major source of revenue. They have continued their gifts to the hospital from the balance left in their account.

Jeanne Crane wiped away tears when she announced the vote to disband. She first became president in 1986. She has served in the position until now.

“I’ve struggled thinking about this for three years,” she said at the May luncheon. “We have no way to make money and haven’t run the Greeter Desk or Reception Desk since Covid.”

She recalled other projects and donations the Twigs were responsible for during the years, such as pledging $45,000 in 1983 for ICU; extensive lobby renovations; managing TVs for patients; and making puppets for kids in the ER.

Crane, a registered nurse, taught expectant parent classes at the hospital, worked as a registered nurse beginning in 1967, worked as nurse manager in the North Wing in 1970 and retired from Medina Memorial Hospital in 2003 as Risk Management and Infection Control Nurse.

Marc Shurtz, CEO of Orleans Community Health, praised the Twig Association and said their involvement will be missed.

“The Twigs have stood hand in hand with Medina Memorial Hospital and Orleans Community Health since the 1950s,” he said. “The impact they’ve had on the health and wellness of the community goes far beyond what many realize. They were behind the purchases of items for surgeries and mammograms, while their name is also on the sign in front of Medina Memorial Hospital. You can’t walk through Medina Memorial Hospital without seeing something the Twigs had a hand in making a reality.”