The Women’s Auxiliary for St. Edmond’s Home for Children was founded in 1917 by the Archbishop of Philadelphia, the Most Reverend Edmond F. Prendergast. Archbishop Prendergast had founded the Home for the care and training of children with disabilities in 1916. Mrs. Mary Mundy was asked to organize an auxiliary for the purpose of raising funds to maintain the Home and supply nursing care and therapy aids for the children. Mrs. Mundy and a group of Catholic laywomen set up an organization able to achieve these goals and continue the service and care of the children of the Home. A charter was granted to the Auxiliary in 1924.
The Home served as headquarters for the Auxiliary and in the early years was the site of its fund raising. There were breakfasts, lunches, card parties and bingo games given to help the children. An Annual Appeal was made by mail to the Catholic community. In 1956, the Home was moved to Rosemont and Auxiliary funds were used to furnish the new buildings and the chapel. The Auxiliary also maintained a summer camp "The Cedars" which had been given to the Home when the children could benefit from camp activities. "The Cedars" was discontinued in 1982 as the children were too disabled for camp life. In 1985, the Auxiliary provided funds of over $300,000 to renovate the Home and bring it into compliance with State regulations and purchase state-of-the-art equipment.
The Auxiliary’s most glamorous fund raiser took place in 1966 when the women were asked to sponsor the premiere of “The Flying Nun” with Debbie Reynolds. Debbie herself was present and introduced the children from the Home in her "thank yous" to a full audience. Over $25,000 was raised which at that time was a large amount for a single event.
A tea was given for Grace Kelly, then Princess of Monaco, when she visited the Home. Princess Grace toured the Home while the children were given rides on the motorcycles of the Philadelphia police escort.
The Auxiliary’s major fund raiser is their Annual Cup Day Gala. When it first began, it was coupled with a Men’s golf outing and the winners would receive the Cup at the dinner dance. The golf outing has ceased and now the honorees for the evening receive the Cup. There have been many memorable galas over the years. The largest one in recent years was in 1996 with over 300 people attending at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Philadelphia. Brian O’Neill chaired the event. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a friend of Brian’s, shared a tribute to the Home and the wonderful support and outstanding professional cared provided for the children by their expert Staff.
In the early years the Auxiliary was made up of a small Board of Managers and several hundred members. Over the years the Board increased and the membership decreased. In 1984 the Board of Managers, numbering 90 became the membership while retaining managerial status. An Executive committee handles administrative and organizational matters. There are also the Finance, Fund Raising, Nominating and Volunteer committees. Business of the Auxiliary is carried on through monthly meetings and committee work. The Auxiliary now has 110 members.
The most recent Auxiliary projects include the new swimming pool, the Great Room, new bathtubs, updated hallways and in 2015, the updated chapel.
Members of the Auxiliary deserving special mention include Mary Mundy, founding president, Margaret Sheahan, founding vice president and president for several terms, Florence Carpenter, president when the charter was granted, Alice Scannell, who served at the time of the move to Rosemont. Also Pearl Welsh, treasurer for over 30 years and Marie Slavin, secretary for 25 years. More recently, Anne Bonner deserves special mention as she was President while the new therapy pool addition was completed in 2005.
We invite you to join the Women’s Auxiliary, a group of energetic and generous women, by contacting Ellen Cass. We look forward to welcoming new members to share in our mission of caring for our St. Edmond's children.