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St. Joseph Hospital Service League gives significant donation to Creighton University

St. Joseph Hospital Service League TeaGenerations of caring Omaha women happily greeted each other at a celebratory tea party for the St. Joseph Hospital Service League in the Harper Center ballroom at Creighton University on April 20.

After 57 years in existence, 40 ladies of the St. Joseph Hospital Service League reunited to give a significant scholarship donation to Creighton. A check for a $300,000 endowed scholarship was presented to Creighton president, the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., by service league president, Dede Johnson. The scholarship will support the College of Nursing and the School of Medicine. The service league will no longer be active at St. Joseph Hospital when it closes in 2017 and operations move to CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center – Bergan Mercy.

On January 21, 1959, nearly 100 women, wives of hospital staff, medical school faculty and influential community volunteers, formed the St. Joseph Hospital Service League. Their primary task was to assist the Sisters of St. Francis in the operation of the hospital and to serve patients, staff and visitors. The women managed the hospital’s gift shop, and will continue to do so until the hospital officially shuts its doors.

“I’m sad to see the hospital go,” former gift shop manager Rita McFarland said. “I had all three children in the old hospital on 10th street.”

Members of the St. Joseph Hospital Service LeaguePast and present members were in attendance, including the two oldest-living presidents, Dodie Drahota, president in 1970 and Donna Kennedy Schatz, president in 1971. Many women remained dedicated to the league through the years, with the late Mrs. Leo A. Daly Jr. volunteering for a record 63 years. Daly spent most of her time in the intensive care and surgical waiting rooms.

From their famous Shrimp Peel fundraiser held in Omaha landmarks such as the old Blackstone Hotel, to the St. Joseph statue in the hospital lobby, the service league has made a major impact on the Omaha community.

“It’s a pretty dynamic group of women,” current board member and gift shop manager, Michaela Kanoski said. “They could rule the world if they wanted to.”

The scholarship donation is only a small portion of the fundraising arm of the league. Through donations, they have provided St. Joseph Hospital with a van to transport oncology patients, computer stations on each level and a new hospice room, among many other projects. In 2005, their donations reached a record high of $85,000 annually.

“Our service league board, although small, but mighty, has always been so committed to the patient’s families. It’s amazing the amount of people we serve,” current president Dede Johnson said.

Even though the hospital will close next year, these women are still committed to service. The service league board is meeting with the Bergan-Mercy Auxiliary to share their mission and ideas for successful events as the year moves forward.

Many influential Omaha women founded the St. Joseph Hospital Service League. The founding members of the service league were as follows:

Mrs. Leo A. Daly Jr.
Mrs. W.B. Millard Jr.
Mrs. Clarence Landon
Mrs. Lawrence Brinker
Mrs. Willard Hosford Jr.
Mrs. J. Francis McDermott
Mrs. Daniel Gross
Mrs. W.J. McMartin
Mrs. Francis Martland
Mrs. W. Clark Swanson
Mrs. John Diesing
Mrs. Edwin Cassem

Past presidents of the St. Joseph Hospital Service League present Creighton president Fr. Daniel Hendrickson a check.


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