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Annual Auxiliary luncheon highlights service, kindness

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Members of the University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center Auxiliary celebrated their annual spring luncheon on Tuesday, honoring a trio of board members for their exemplary service, bestowing the group’s Karen Mahoney Scholarship on an Alice Hyde employee, and welcoming “The Bread Man” Chet Fery for a program that focused on the power of kindness.

As part of the Auxiliary’s executive committee presentation the group honored three members of its Board of Directors — Linda Bouissey, Eleanor Bennett and Carole Holmes — for exemplary service. Auxiliary President Kay Ray said called the trio, who have served in various capacities on the Auxiliary for years prime examples of community service. Bouissey, a retired nurse, continues to volunteer in the Pharmacy Department at Alice Hyde, creates baskets for the Auxiliary’s raffle each year, and serves as a committee chairman; Bennet volunteers weekly at Alice Hyde’s Gift Shop, and serves on the Auxiliary’s Scholarship Committee and helps organize its annual bazaar; Holmes has served as buyer for the Alice Hyde gift shop for 19 years now, and also as chair of the committee that organizes the Auxiliary’s annual luncheon.

“I’m extremely proud of our board,” said Ray. “We have wonderful members who do not hesitate to do whatever it takes to support Alice Hyde and our community.”

Matt Jones, Alice Hyde’s Chief Operating Officer, called the group’s contributions to the hospital an integral part of Alice Hyde’s commitment to delivering compassionate care to its community. Last year alone the group donated funds to help the hospital purchase beds and new specialty mattresses for Alice Hyde’s Med-Surg unit, as well as special Staxi wheelchairs for use by patients and visitors within the hospital.

The group also this year has awarded $15,000 in scholarships to students pursuing careers in the health care industry, as part of a program that was kicked off in 1971 with a single $500 scholarship and has grown by leaps and bounds since then. This year, Ray said, the Auxiliary’s scholarship program had 36 applicants. That program also includes one award, the Karen Mahoney Scholarship, which is given to an Alice Hyde employee pursuing professional development. This year’s winner is Laurie Donahue, who is pursuing her LPN certification.

“It amazes me what this group is able to achieve, and the positive impact they have on both Alice Hyde and our community,” said Jones. “Having the support of the community, like we do in Malone, makes all the difference. We couldn’t do what we do every day without the care and support of the Auxiliary.”

For Fery, the event’s keynote speaker and the founder of Bread Time Stories, the Auxiliary’s mission made perfect sense seen through the lens of his guiding principle: kindness. Fery’s been baking and giving away bread for nearly two decades, in an effort to spread the word about the power creating an atmosphere of kind ness can have everywhere from schools to hospitals. Fery said he found that feeling – as well as something even more powerful – when he visited Alice Hyde on Monday with his wife, and met Bennett, who was volunteering in the hospital’s gift shop.

“This is a place that feels like home – and finding home is important to us,” said Fery. “There’s something about feeling home; it’s something that we all seek, and I feel it here.”

For Fery, who talked about his experience caring for his aging mother and the difference kind-hearted health care professionals made in her life, the power of human connection and compassionate care is a resource that creates strength and well-being not just in those in need of medical care, but throughout their friends, families and loved-ones.

“Kindness helps us heal; it helps us do a lot of things better,” he said. “What you do creates a spirit that keeps this North Country alive. You’re creating something that’s priceless.”