Watertown, New York – The Samaritan Auxiliary hosted a grand opening and naming celebration of its new coffee shop located inside the main entrance of the Samaritan Medical Center on February 1, 2024.
The original coffee shop location, across from the Auxiliary’s gift shop at the other end of the main lobby, was needed to construct additional rooms for the behavioral health unit in the emergency department. The behavioral health crisis has created a need for these extra beds, and this move will accommodate this provision.
A naming contest was held, and after receiving 109 suggestions from Samaritan Caregivers, the name “Sips by Samaritan Auxiliary,” submitted by Ashlee Bucy, retention resolution specialist, was selected by the Auxiliary Board of Directors. Additionally, it was announced at the grand opening event that the coffee shop now offers delicious baked goods from Chrissy Beanz and specialty coffee beans from local vendors.
President of the Auxiliary, Shawna Cutuli, said, “We were excited to see so many Samaritan Caregivers and community members attend the event. The coffee shop and gift shop in the Medical Center are open for all to enjoy, and we are proud to showcase local products and vendors.”
Shawna added, “In addition to the Samaritan Auxiliary Board members, we were pleased with how many Auxiliary members were able to attend the event including Susan Johnson, Janet George, Lu Green, Cynthia Ahlheim, Ann Van Slyke, and Patti Schreck.”
In 2024, Samaritan Auxiliary, composed entirely of volunteers, is proudly celebrating its 128th anniversary as it continues to play a vital role in enhancing the quality of care in the Samaritan Health system through the work of the volunteers and financial support. The House of the Good Samaritan was founded in 1881, and in 1896 the Trustees of the Hospital invited a group of ladies to act as an Auxiliary to the Board of Trustees with Mrs. Goodale as the first Auxiliary President. In 1899 a new hospital was built on Washington St. at a cost of $48,500, and by 1900 the Auxiliary had 213 members, a treasury of $2,485 and at Christmas they purchased dinner for the 25 patients hospitalized at a cost of $25, and still had some money to spare.
Throughout its 128 years of volunteer service the Auxiliary has consistently dedicated its efforts to serving the needs of The House of the Good Samaritan – Samaritan Health as a major contributor of volunteer time and financial resources. Here are just a few of the highlights and contributions that the Auxiliary has made over the course of the 128 years:
• 1903 Twigs began as working subdivisions of the Auxiliary initially supplying the hospital with linens, dishes, equipment, special foods. During the Depression when need was great the Twigs and Auxiliary redecorated and refurbished hospital rooms. One of the last Twig branches on the Samaritan ‘tree’, The Balsam Twigs, had been active until just recently, making a donation that benefited the patients in the Inpatient Mental Health Unit and Acute Rehab Unit in 2023. The Laurel Twig’s, formed in 1987, largest fundraiser, Book Sales, raised about $72,000 between 2001 and 2010 under the leadership of Sue Peters. The Bent Twigs, established in 1947, had 17 members fundraising in 2010 led by Beverly Lamica.
• 1942 Volunteers staffed the Visitor’s Desk for the first time, and they continue to volunteer their time in the Auxiliary gift shops and other areas of the Samaritan System.
• 1954 Auxiliary Scholarships were awarded to student and graduate nurses and later expanded to all employees
• 1974 Auxiliary committed to a three-year project of underwriting $50,000 worth of equipment and furnishings for the new Maternity Wing
• 1979 Auxiliary undertook a three-year project to raise $75,000 for ultrasound equipment
• 1981 The “X-Rayted Follies”, a musical with singing and dancing by staff and community members, produced by the Auxiliary, raised $25,000 for the Cancer Treatment Center and Labor Room redecorating
• 1984 The Auxiliary to the House of the Good Samaritan was incorporated, then renamed in 1995 to Samaritan Auxiliary. The Auxiliary purchased $34,000 of equipment and gave 34,796 hours of volunteer time
• 1991 Auxiliary committed to a $250,000 pledge to the Capital Fund Drive for the new Maternity Unit. The “Rock-a-Bye Follies”, a musical performance led by a director from New York City and performed by local community members and staff at the Dulles State Office Building, raised $18,000
• 1992 The Auxiliary Gift Shop moved to a new location in the hospital and along with the SKH gift shop had profits of $50,000. The four year “Twig Challenge” was accepted by 12 active Twig groups to raise $500 each toward the Capital Fund Pledge, while the Auxiliary provided $10,000 toward Samaritan Keep Home’s renovations in the dining room.
• 1993-1994 Revenue to support the hospital was generated from the gift shops, Baby Photos, Sneaker and Jewelry Sales, cookbook sales, patient television services
• 1995 Renamed to ‘Samaritan Auxiliary’ with volunteer hours exceeding 50,000
• 1996 A $250,000 pledge to the Capital Fund Drive for the Maternity Unit was satisfied, with the Auxiliary as a lead donor; inaugural “Men’s Night in the Kitchen” fundraiser.
• 1997-2001 Pledged $300,000 as a lead donor to the new Cardiac Catheterization Lab; Donated artwork, carpeting, decorating, and equipment at Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Keep Home; Began the Uniform Sales and Bridge Marathon fundraisers
• 2002 Auxiliary participated in Samaritan Foundation’s new community event, “A North Country Festival of Trees” donating $5,000, two of the Twigs groups decorated trees and the Auxiliary provided volunteers for the event
• 2003 Auxiliary’s new community fundraiser “One Night, One Diamond” initiated at Ives Hill Retirement Community with 50 guests in attendance
• 2005 Auxiliary funded the playing of Brahms “Lullaby” on the loudspeaker throughout the hospital when a baby is born
• 2006 Auxiliary’s “One Night, One Diamond” event for the first time dedicated the proceeds to purchase equipment – this year targeting breast cancer and purchasing the Mammotome Breast Biopsy System and Neo-Probe Gamma Detection System
• 2007 – 2010 Auxiliary pledged $750,000 to the Advancing Healthcare- Close to Home Capital Campaign, and Starbucks coffee shop launched in SMC
• 2018 Auxiliary pledged $500,000 to Samaritan Foundation’s Capital Campaign to build the Walker Center for Cancer Care
• 2020 After a temporary closure in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the Auxiliary Gift Shops at Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Summit Village and the Starbucks Coffee Shop in the Medical Center reopened slowly in 2021 despite the challenges. “One Night, One Diamond” was cancelled two weeks before the event in 2020, but due to the generosity of our sponsors and donors the Auxiliary presented a $96,344 check to Samaritan for the equipment necessary to perform Mohs Surgery for dermatology and another Optimum UV-Light due to the urgent COVID needs.
• 2021 – 2022 the virtual event “One Night, One Diamond” in 2021 raised $83,675 to Samaritan for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), just one of the unexpected expenses brought on by the pandemic, and in 2022 the event raised $110,322 for the purchase of another ultraviolet disinfection device, as well as supporting the purchase of five Sleep Lab Diagnostic Systems for the Samaritan Sleep Center
• 2023 “One Night, One Diamond”, held again at The Commons on Fort Drum, proceeds purchased BioFire Modules for the Samaritan Laboratory and supported the purchase of the Hologic Breast PACS System with a check presentation to Samaritan totaling $87,661
The Auxiliary’s “One Night, One Diamond” event proceeds have purchased nearly a million dollars of capital equipment for Samaritan cancer patients, Smart IV pumps for pediatrics, non-invasive ventilators for newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, equipment for the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit, equipment to perform Mohs Surgery for Dermatology, equipment to support Robotic Surgery, UV lights for disinfection, PPE for staff during the challenging time of the pandemic, and so much more.
The Auxiliary Scholarships that began in 1954 are still awarded each year. As part of its mission to support and enhance healthcare programs at Samaritan, in May of 2023 Samaritan Auxiliary Scholarships were awarded to two Samaritan employees who are furthering their education in healthcare. One recipient, Anna O’Neil, a Registered Nurse who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at Chamberlain University with an expected completion date in 2025, recently progressed her career by becoming an assistant nurse manager in the Progressive Care and Intensive Care units at Samaritan Medical Center.
Samaritan Auxiliary is a 501(c)3 organization governed by a Board of Directors consisting of volunteers that continue the mission established in 1896. In its 128th year of service of raising money to purchase capital equipment, in addition fulfilling smaller requests through its continuous fundraising ventures, such as, the Auxiliary Gift Shops, Coffee Shop, as well as the Uniform and Purse sales throughout the year, additional needs are met through an application process to the Auxiliary Board each year. Some of the recent requests fulfilled were stuffed animals to children receiving care at Samaritan, coloring books, crayons, puzzles for patients, Watertown Daily Times newspaper subscriptions for patient use, Nee Doh Balls for that benefited the patients in the Inpatient Mental Health Unit and Acute Rehab Unit providing stress relief and help with motor skills, to name a few.
Over the course of the 128 years of the Auxiliary volunteers’ hard work and dedication, many millions of dollars have been given to Samaritan to enhance patient care and this continues today. The volunteers that work in the Samaritan Medical Center and Samaritan Summit Village gift shops provide many hours of dedicated service to help us achieve these goals.
The Auxiliary is always looking for new volunteers and welcome all who would like to share in their commitment of support to Samaritan Health. If interested in volunteering in the gift shops, please reach out to Amanda Bradbury, Manager of Volunteer Services at (315) 785-4479. Another way to support Samaritan Auxiliary is by becoming an Auxiliary member through dues. If you are interested in becoming an Auxiliary member or to make a donation, please consider an annual regular membership at $15, a senior membership at $5, or Lifetime Member status with a $200 donation online at Samaritan Auxiliary, or by mailing a check to Samaritan Auxiliary, Attn: Membership Chair, 830 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601.