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Whitworth Auxiliary approaches 100-year anniversary

November 27, 2013

Beginning in 1915 in the living rooms of members’ homes as the Women’s Board of Whitworth College, the Whitworth Auxiliary has functioned as a behind-the-scenes fund-raising organization for almost a century.

Its original objective was to make residence halls feel like a “home away from home” for students. The core tenets of this group are “to pray, to plan and to promote.” They began by sewing curtains and making pillows for residence-hall couches, and members of the auxiliary also acted as “dorm moms” for the residents.

“We papered walls, we painted and we had all the pianos tuned every summer,” Marilyn Stedman, a member of the Whitworth Auxiliary since 1975, says. “I joined because my daughter was a Whitworth student and Dorothy Farr-Dixon, the daughter of the founder of the auxiliary, asked me to. Dorothy was a grand lady, who said ‘let’s do it’ and we did it.”

Over time, the Whitworth Auxiliary has grown in membership and in fund-raising profits. The group’s meetings moved from living rooms to churches, and seven years ago members began meeting on the Whitworth campus. The residence halls remain an important part of their ministry, but they have expanded their mission to address the financial needs of students, as well.

The Whitworth Auxiliary has raised nearly $200,000 for donations over the organization’s lifetime. In 2012, the women raised $13,500 for residence-hall renovations, off-campus travel experiences for international and Hawaiian students, and scholarship support for the President’s Discretionary Fund.

“One of my favorite aspects of the auxiliary is being able to give back to Whitworth all of the great things that I received during my time there,” Mary Lee Nickoloff, current president of the Whitworth Auxiliary and member of Whitworth’s Class of 1964, says. “The auxiliary is also an opportunity for Christian fellowship with a really neat group of Christian ladies who support and care for each other.” Nickoloff joined the organization in 2006 after retiring from 27 years of teaching.

Currently, the group meets once a month, and there are about 45 active members, 11 of whom have joined since June. No invitation is necessary to become a member, and anyone is welcome to join.

The members of the auxiliary raise funds through three annual events: the Fall Luncheon and Bazaar; the Winter Bazaar and Bake Sale; and the Spring Tea and Style Show. This year’s Christmas Bazaar will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, in the Hixson Union Building.

The Whitworth Auxiliary also is raising funds through the sale of cutlery and its cookbook Tasty Treasures: Tried and True Recipes from The Whitworth Auxiliary (available in the Whitworth Bookstore).

The group recently established The Whitworth Auxiliary Endowed Scholarship. The inaugural award will be given to a student in honor of the centennial of the Whitworth Auxiliary in fall 2015.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.