The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital Service Committee held its 50th Anniversary Irish Coffee Saturday, March 11, at Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave. The event is held to raise funds for Comer’s Child Life and Family Medicine, which helps children deal with the special difficulties they experience when being hospitalized and preparing for surgery and therapy.
The Service Committee was celebrating its 50th year of supporting efforts at Comer and honoring those members who have been active in that support for fifty years or more.
“We were involved with when it was Bobs Roberts Hospital, then it was Wyler Children’s Hospital and now that it’s Comer and we’re still involved,” long-serving member Millie Huyck said.
There were a wide variety of items up for silent auction at the Irish Coffee. Everything from jewelry to Cubs tickets, dinner for four at the Jackson Park Yacht club and a handmade quilt from the Lakeside Quilting Guild of Hyde Park were available to the highest bidder. Irish coffee with whipped cream was the featured beverage and a wide variety of treats were offered.
Huyck said the Committee helps pay for things like music therapy, backpacks of essentials for foster children and library carts. She said the coffee raises an average of $10,000 a year. There is also a donor appeal in the fall.
Many at the event have been contributing their time and effort for decades including Diane Stokes, who said she’s been helping out for at least 20 years; Maria Deganello, who said she’s been coming since 1977 and Michelle Thomas, who said her sister got her involved five years ago.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25) were also in attendance to lend their support for the charity. Preckwinkle and Flynn Currie and Committee members who have served for 50 years or more received special honors for their support during the event.
“It’s especially hard on children to be in a hospital setting,” said Jennie Ott, director of Child Life and Education in Comer’s Pediatric Specialties unit. “The things the Committee helps to provide helps kids get through procedures that can be frightening and things to help process what they’ve been through such as CAT scans.”
Ott said cuddle or comfort pillows are one of the main items the Committee provides that helps children as they go through a course of treatment. Other things the funds from the Service Committee helps pay for are playroom equipment, art and music programs and Regali charms for dying children to leave lasting mementos for their families to treasure.