CUMBERLAND - For the second time in recent history, the Western Maryland Health System Auxiliary's leadership team has pledged $1 million in support of new advances at WMHS.

CUMBERLAND - For the second time in recent history, the Western Maryland Health System Auxiliary’s leadership team has pledged $1 million in support of new advances at WMHS.
Sacred Heart and Memorial Auxiliaries combined to form the WMHS Auxiliary in 2005, and since then the organization has given over $2.75 million to the health system, through multi-year pledges and cash donations.
    This year’s commitment, signed in May at the spring membership dinner, was unanimously approved by the 200-member organization. The funds are earmarked to support construction and operation of the new yet-to-be-named WMHS recovery center for individuals battling opioid addiction or other substance abuse and behavioral health issues.
    The $400,000 gift was the first payment of a total $1,000,000 pledge that will help fund the residential step-down facility, which will provide resources to patients reintegrating into the community and will enhance the Allegany County continuum of care for mental health and substance abuse patients.
    Though the auxiliary’s initial intent was to dedicate proceeds from this year’s Snow Ball – $100,000 – toward the center, the size of the gift grew in proportion to the amount needed for construction and operation. After consulting their treasurer, Sharon Livengood, the board was able to allocate funds from their investments and other fundraisers toward this year’s gift of $400,000, the first installment in the $1 million pledge. This sizeable commitment also gives the Auxiliary naming rights over the new facility.
    “We knew we had to be a huge supporter of the new center,” said Sherry Schmitt, immediate past president. “Everyone we talked to finds it to be such a worthwhile and positive thing. We’ve all had people in our lives who are dealing with addiction or have behavioral health problems. This is a much-needed resource. We can connect this with the other programs at WMHS and as a result we have a shot at making a real impact.”
   Incoming auxiliary president Julie Davis, fire administration officer for the City of Cumberland Fire Department, agreed, and said, “I see the impact this crisis has on a daily basis. I see how it taxes our emergency service providers. We were all unanimously in favor of facing this challenge and supporting a valuable asset that will effectively address the need. We owe a debt of gratitude to the generous partners who sponsor the Snow Ball, as well as our own hard-working auxilians.”
    The pledge will also fall under the direction of president-elect Kim Kremer, who will succeed Julie.
    “Speaking personally, though I imagine most who work in healthcare would agree, we all seek to find that one thing that will help just one person,” Sherry said.   
     The WMHS Auxiliary is the largest fundraising partner of the WMHS Foundation. Volunteer work enables the auxiliary’s generous donations through fundraisers like the Snow Ball and specialty sales as well as regular commitments to the One Dream Gift Shop and Past Perfect Bargain Boutique. In 2005, the Auxiliary made a $1 million seminal pledge to the WMHS Capital Campaign, which provided a catalyst for nearly $10 million in additional pledges from the community, WMHS employees and medical staff.  
    As the recovery center begins construction this summer, Karen Johnson, chief development officer and executive director of the WMHS Foundation, anticipates that some in the community will want to join the auxiliary in supporting the development of this new resource.
    “We welcome your interest and support,” Karen said. “It seems every one of us knows someone who has been touched by addiction. Gifts of support of all sizes are welcome, up to and including those which would name rooms and other areas of the facility. The center will be a huge gift to the community, an impact well worth the investment.”
For more information about donating, contact Karen in the WMHS Foundation office at 240-964-8060 or by email at karenjohnson@wmhs.com.