June Williams LHD Auxiliary

Chris Thompson, left, and June Williams, of the Lake District Hospital Auxiliary, display some handmade items created by Auxiliary members in this Examiner photo from the 1980s. Williams passed away March 24, 2020 during the height of COVID. Her daughters recently donated $8,000 to the Auxiliary in honor of their mother.

After their mother’s passing in 2020, June Willams’ daughters decided to make an $8,000 donation to the Lake Health District Auxiliary. Williams was a longtime member of the Auxiliary and a main contributor to many of its fundraisers and events over the years. LHD Auxiliary member Janine Simms said the group does not often receive such large contributions.

Wednesday, March 24 marks one years since June Williams’ passing. As COVID was in full swing at the time, her family was unable to hold a funeral. Williams’ daughters — Linda Williams, Jolene Williams and Donna Meyers — wanted to do something to honor their mother’s memory. They decided on a donation to a cause that had been near and dear to her heart.

The three sisters grew up in Lakeview and Linda said she remembers attending the holiday fairs over the years and helping her mom make items for each. Many editions of the Lake County Examiner dating back to the 1980s show that Williams was an active Auxiliary member. She is featured in numerous photos promoting the organization’s holiday fairs, always with a big smile on her face.

One of the sisters had retired from Intel, which offers a match when its employees donate to a nonprofit. That allowed Williams’ daughters to take $4,000 of their own money and turn it into an $8,000 donation to the LHD Auxiliary. The nonprofit’s primary purpose is to raise funds and purchase equipment that will benefit Lake District Hospital patients, Simms said.

The Auxiliary raises the majority of its monies through annual fundraisers like its holiday fair and card party. COVID restrictions meant those fundraisers did not happen in 2020. Those circumstances made the Williams’ family donation all the more meaningful. “Eight-thousand dollars is huge for us,” Simms said.

The Auxiliary has also faced challenges unrelated to the pandemic which have hampered its fundraising efforts. The members’ average age is 85, so the Auxiliary is not as active as it has been in years past. The group was previously in charge of running the Hospital gift shop, but turned the responsibility back over the hospital as the members could not keep it adequately staffed.

As with many well-established organizations in the area, Simms said the Auxiliary struggles to recruit new members. She observed that “civic organizations don’t seem to be as popular” with younger people as they were in the past.

Still, she hopes to see new members join the Auxiliary. The prerequisites for membership are far from stringent. Dues are just $10 a year and members simply need to be at least 18 years old and have an interest in helping raise funds for the benefit of patients in the hospital, Simms related. There are no time commitment requirements and members choose which projects they want to be involved in.

When the Hospital’s department heads request that an item be purchased with Auxiliary funds, the Auxiliary reviews the request and then takes a vote on whether to make the purchase. Requests are rarely not approved, Simms said.

In the past year, the Auxiliary purchased new chairs for the cafeteria along with a scale and blood pressure cuffs for Public Health — which is not a part of the Health District. The Auxiliary also bought a patient stand assist and a tablet for Lakeview Gardens which allows residents to communicate with their loved ones when visits are not possible.

Anyone interested in learning more about the LHD Auxiliary or becoming a member is encouraged to call Janine Simms at 541-219-2024.

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