The Women’s Board of Summa Health and the Women's Board of St. Thomas Hospital — two compassionate groups of volunteers who over multiple generations have raised more than $13.5 million to support patient care at Summa Health — have been honored with the prestigious Summa Health Boniface DeRoo Award for Philanthropy.
Boniface DeRoo, an unassuming Akron blacksmith, was Summa Health’s first donor. He bequeathed his entire estate more than 125 years ago to create what became Akron City Hospital — sparking a vibrant legacy of giving that continues today at Summa Health. Previous winners of the DeRoo Award — the highest honor given to Summa Health benefactors — are Richard M. and Yvonne Hamlin (2018), Vincent and Nancy DiGirolamo (2015) and Ann and the late David Brennan (2014).
The two DeRoo awards were presented June 26 by Cliff Deveny, M.D., Summa Health president and chief executive officer, during the Summa Society Celebration — the health system’s annual donor recognition dinner.
“The Women’s Board of Summa Health and the Women’s Board of St. Thomas Hospital have touched countless lives in our community,” Dr. Deveny said. “Summa Health is extremely grateful for these teams of volunteers who have given so selflessly of their time, talent and resources.”
The Women’s Board of Summa Health was founded in 1922 as the Women’s Auxiliary Board of Akron City Hospital. The group has raised more than $7.5 million and volunteered more than 350,000 hours in fundraising and patient service.
The group’s main fundraising today comes from operating the Gift and Plant Place. For decades, the Women’s Board’s highly anticipated rummage sales drew thousands of people. Members also have provided holiday decorating and maintained the hospital’s chapel among many other projects.
Members have helped Summa Health acquire vital medical equipment for nearly every department, including 3D mammography, the most sophisticated breast imaging technology available. Members continue to enhance patient care with annual donations to support nursing education and through their enduring commitment to the patients and families served by Summa Health.
Since forming in 1958, the Women’s Board of St. Thomas Hospital has raised more than $6 million for the hospital through numerous fundraisers, including the Gift Shop and Twice as Nice shop, jewelry and uniform sales, and former signature event, A Day at the Races, which was in existence for 50 years.
Through the generosity and support of members, the group carries on the legacy of caring and compassion established by Sister Mary Ignatia and Dr. Robert Smith (Dr. Bob) for the treatment of alcoholism and other addictive disorders. Recognizing St. Thomas Hospital as a place of spiritual healing, members provided generous support for the remodeling of the Ignatia Hall Chapel and help fund the chaplaincy program at Summa Health Behavioral Health Institute.
Other programs and services at St. Thomas supported by members include nursing scholarships, diabetes education, supplies and equipment for orthopedics, pain management, wound care and hospice.