, Newburyport, MA

October 25, 2013

125 years and still giving

Bill Plante's North Shore
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Bad news is forever with us. Good news is as well, but it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Making it over some 125 years should, and I was fortunate to able to share it with the Anna Jaques Hospital Aid Association members at their annual meeting on Oct. 17.

Reports for the year past and elections for the coming year make for annual business luncheons everywhere. Would that they could be as uplifting as those reported by association president Mary Zerigian.

The short of it is the Aid Association raises as much money year after year as members are able in support of Anna Jaques Hospital, and they do it by way of volunteer commitment and the public responds to it.

That’s what the beginning of the Aid Association was about, and it remains unshaken throughout history.

The taproot would become the Aid Association in 1888 following what was called “Hospital Sunday” back in 1885 when it netted $1,400 from 25 participating churches.

Its originators could not have foreseen what followed in the years leading to this one.

I have had the good fortune to attend a number of the Aid Association annual meetings, and I can’t recall a one that was anything but upbeat over what had been done and enthusiastic as to what lay ahead.

Presidents give their summaries of the printed annual report, crediting all who have contributed to the planning and outcomes, even as those who have accepted responsibility are already engaged with what will lie ahead.

They had successes to build upon next year.

President Zerigian reported the fiscal year incomes ending on October 2013 as follows:

The AJH gift shop’s contribution to the hospital was $50,000.

Great Chefs’ Night — its 25th — netted $46,662.

The ever-popular “Christmas Tree Light” netted $4,543.

Sales of art paintings lining the walls of the main floor netted $1,797

As for the resulting contributions to Anna Jaques Hospital in addition to the scholarship fund for students pursuing health care (four at $500 each), in total, the AID association donated $108,000 to Anna Jaques Hospital as follows:

Birth Center patient room upgrades and Gerrish Breast Care Center — $50,000.

Patient care coordination software — $30,510.

Two new Sapphire portable surgeon headlights — $4,990.

Pedi Psych patient visitor room — $12,500.

Fourth of five pledges to “Your Hospital” Capital Campaign — $10,000

I trust that those who read this are as grateful as I for what all volunteers and those responding to their fundraising activities mean to Anna Jaques.

Truth to tell, I was not much acquainted with the Anna Jaques during my first 21 years as a native Newburyporter. I came to know it as the hospital where, during and following the Second World War, emergency surgery would save the life of Susan, my late wife, on three occasions.

She would survive to become the mother of our four sons and one daughter, and a lifelong volunteer at the hospital as would my mother during the war and following it.

Considering the hardships of the times in which they had served, they would have been surprised by the numbers included in president Zerigian’s report, but not by the dedication it took to achieve them.

She concluded with gratitude for what had been achieved by members who give of themselves over and again as had those who began the making of this history a century and a half ago.

As for the future, the beat goes on and the door is open for those who would join in extending that history.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is