Karen Goldlist joined Mount Sinai Auxiliary about 13 years ago to help out with a program that provides new moms with layettes.
Now, as the auxiliary celebrates its 60th anniversary, Goldlist, 53, is part way through her two-year term as president.
“I originally joined because my friends were assembling about 200 layettes a year, for a program called Baby’s First Comforts, and they needed an extra hand. As I began to realize the extent of the auxiliary’s work, I got more and more involved.”
The seeds for the auxiliary were planted in 1922, when a group of Jewish women began raising money to build a hospital where Jewish doctors could practise medicine without discrimination and where immigrant communities – Jewish and non-Jewish – could receive high-level care.
In 1933, after the women raised $12,000, a down payment was placed on a building on Yorkville Avenue that became the original Mount Sinai. In 1953, the institution moved to University Avenue, and in 1973, it moved to its current location a bit further north at 600 University Ave.
The auxiliary, a consolidated volunteer organization, was founded in 1953 and has since raised and contributed $30 million to the hospital. It was one of the first philanthropic volunteer groups to organize big fundraising galas in Toronto.
The original group was made up of wives of doctors and dentists at the hospital, “and it grew from there. Now it is made up of people who have a strong commitment to [Mount Sinai,]” Goldlist said
Proceeds from its 60th anniversary gala, held in the fall, will support the auxiliary’s $4.5-million pledge to support the hospital’s women’s and infants’ health program.
In the past 60 years, the auxiliary established volunteer services at the hospital, opened the gift shop, created the baby photography program, and developed and maintains a hospital lecture series held in four languages, to educate immigrants and patients about important health-care topics.
Goldlist said the auxiliary has always been “this incredible machine that was fuelled by a drive to make Mount Sinai all that it could be, and really, all that it is today. It was the organization against which all other auxiliaries were measured. It was, and still is, extraordinary.”
Joseph Mapa, Mount Sinai’s president and CEO, said that funds from this most recent gala and other auxiliary programs, “have always been something the hospital can count on. The auxiliary funds are like an annuity for Mount Sinai. For so many years they have provided a reliable stream of revenue, funds that literally helped us to build Mount Sinai and continue to help us define ourselves as providers of the best medicine.”
Goldlist said one of the auxiliary’s biggest challenges is engaging new people. “We’re mindful of creating a growing volunteer base for the hospital, and new groups such as Mom’s for Sinai and Future Sinai, have been started.
She said that the that these two groups are planning the annual Chef’s Challenge, to be held in February, which usually brings in a whole new group of volunteers and donors. The event, which raises money for specialty care and research into women’s cancers, this year features Chef Giada DeLaurentiis.
“I have a great team behind me, and two of the longest-standing members, Henrietta Chesnie and Florence Cooper, still belong. [The] team can practically run these events with their eyes closed.”
Goldlist works hard for the auxiliary, but she gets back as much as she gives, she said.
“When I think about all that the auxiliary has accomplished, and what the driving force has been these past 60 years, I have always come back to the same thing – friendship.
“Women got involved and continue to run this wonderful community because of like-minded women who are inspired to join together to make a difference. All that the auxiliary has built for Mount Sinai, it has built through friendship.”