The Women’s Board turns 50

The Women’s Board turns 50
The founding members of the Women’s Board, launched in 1973 (photo from 2012). Since its inception, the Women’s Board has raised more than $34 million for Jacksonville’s Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Photo courtesy of the Women’s Board.

The Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital is celebrating 50 years of philanthropy and fundraising this year.

Michael Aubin, FACHE, Wolfson Children’s Hospital president and Baptist Health Foundation chief philanthropy officer, said the Women’s Board is an organization unlike anything he’d ever experienced prior to arriving at Wolfson.

Throughout its 50 years, the board has raised more than $34 million, which helped transform several hospital facilities, including the Children’s Emergency Center, the Bone Marrow Transplant floor and the Oncology floor. Early in his presidency, Aubin recalled, funds provided by the Women’s Board revamped the hospital’s Behavioral Health Center.

“They invested in our behavioral health area and helped actually build the Behavioral Health Center when we had a very old and tired in-patient behavioral unit that really was not sensitive to kids or their families,” he said. “They made that possible when back then, 12 years ago, people were not making investments into children’s behavioral health.”

The Women’s Board is currently working towards reaching its latest pledge, launched in 2018 — raising $4 million in five years for a “premiere NICU unit” — a target Women’s Board President Robin Albaneze says the board “feels very strongly” will be reached by the end of this year.

“I don’t know what we’d do without the Women’s Board,” Aubin said.

With a volunteer force of more than 400 and a membership consisting of several legacy members — grandmothers, mothers and daughters — Albaneze says this fellowship of women has been an inspiring group to be around all while raising money for a worthy cause.

“I’ve made some really wonderful friends because we all love the children and we love working on the two events — the Florida Forum and the Winter Design Show,” she said. “It’s like we’re giving back so the children of the First Coast are so well taken care of. It’s very important.”

To celebrate the board’s golden jubilee this year, Albaneze said the women are planning additional “little touches of golden things, opportunities coming through the next year that we don’t usually have. Other ways to raise money.”

San Marco resident Kaitlyn Weatherly has been a member of the Women’s Board for more than five years now. Weatherly grew up being an active volunteer with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where her mother worked, so when she relocated to Jacksonville with her husband, it was natural for her to volunteer with her new local children’s hospital.

“I think every member of a community has some responsibility to make that community better,” she said. “…Being that role model for my kids — you’re figuring out a way that you’re helping the community, you’re helping the community do better, you’re helping the community receive a different level of care that’s unique to Jacksonville. We’re setting our city apart in the level of care and healthcare from what we’ve seen in the past and continuous improvements, both on the healthcare and technology side of things.”

Chief Medical Officer of Nemours Children’s Health, Jacksonville Dr. Gary Josephson offered his congratulations to the Women’s Board for their 50 years of service, stating, “…Their dedication and success in raising awareness and funds has enabled Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Health to grow innovative programs and provide nationally and internationally recognized care.  This wonderful work has favorably impacted our ability to become both a regional influence in the care of children and a destination center for many complex services that we provide.  We are forever grateful for their unwavering hard work, dedication, benevolence, and stewardship.”

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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