Volunteers Contribute to Excellence at The Texas Heart Institute
April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week, a time for recognizing the lasting spirit and impact of past and present volunteers, as well as the efforts of our staff, who ceaselessly make time to serve THI and the greater Houston community.
THI would not be the institute it is today without the efforts of so many who have helped serve its mission. After St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital opened in 1954, the “Auxiliary” volunteer organization was established to help patients and their families, raise funds to support the hospital, sponsor educational services for patients and employees, and serve the community. Wearing purple aprons and jackets and later purple polo shirts, Auxiliary volunteers have filled key roles at THI through the years, including making the Dutch Airlift families feel welcome and assisting patients at THI’s Heart Information Center.
One way that Auxiliary volunteers served THI was to maintain the plaza in front of the main hospital entrance that once displayed the Symbol of Excellence sculpture. This monument was designed and sculpted by one of Dr. Cooley’s patients and is now used as the THI logo. The plaza, a gift from Dr. Cooley in memory of his parents, was beautifully maintained by the Auxiliary and in 1981 won an award given by the Municipal Art Commission and the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for “making Houston a better place to live.”
The Auxiliary also funded several substantial provisions for THI. The primary source of revenue for Auxiliary donations came from the hospital gift shop, which opened in 1971. In 1983, the Auxiliary donated $1 million to fund a new intensive care unit at THI. At the time, it was the largest donation ever made by an auxiliary organization in the state of Texas! Auxiliary president Mildred Davis said of the gift, “Helping wherever we are needed is our goal.” Today, through various outreach programs, THI staff and volunteers continue the legacy of the Auxiliary by doing just that.