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by Terri Hogan
As the new president of the Women’s Board supporting MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, Christine Hill Wilson is looking forward to adapting to change while maintaining the spirit of the 100-year-old organization.
Hill Wilson, a lifelong resident of Sandy Spring who was born at Montgomery General Hospital – now MedStar Montgomery — was elected to a two-year term as president on Sept. 8.
Amy Cohen is the president-elect and Susan Sullivan is the vice president.
Hill Wilson first got involved in the early 1990s. She has worked at Sandy Spring Bank for 40 years, and as a community bank, employees are encouraged to give back through volunteerism.
“My supervisor asked me to volunteer at the Picnic and Bazaar, and I have been working there ever since,” she said.
Hill Wilson is the first Black executive officer and president of the Women’s Board.
“I didn’t realize it, but I am,” she said. “We’ve come full circle in 100 years.”
Decades of service
For the past several years Hill Wilson has co-chaired the Picnic and Bazaar, along with Dee Hawkins.
The Picnic and Bazaar, also 100 years old, is arguably the centerpiece of the Women’s Board’s community events.
She was approached by the organization and asked to become an associate member, since she already had enough volunteer hours.
Hill Wilson was elected as the Women’s Board recording secretary in 2012.
In 2014, Joan Murphy asked her if she would be interested in being vice president, a track that would lead to being president of the organization.
“I had a fulltime job, and told her no, no, no,” Hill Wilson said. “Now here it is 2020, and I still have a fulltime job, and I am the president.”
She sees this year as very challenging in terms of the pandemic, but is approaching it with enthusiasm.
“The Women’s Board has always had a spirit of service and entrepreneurship, running two businesses — the hospital gift shop and the thrift shop,” she said. “We are going to really have to think outside the box since I don’t think that things will ever be back to normal. We’ll have to embrace change and display the can-do attitude that the Women’s Board has always had.”
She said members will look back to the organization’s resiliency in the past in order to move forward in fulfilling their pledge to the hospital and scholarship program.
The organization is working to fulfill a $2 million pledge for the renovation of the patient surgical waiting area, a renovation of space on the third floor offering inpatient/outpatient treatment for pulmonary patients, and a full renovation of the thrift shop.
With this year’s 100th annual Picnic and Bazaar canceled – it is held each year in late July — Hill Wilson said board members are looking at other fundraising ideas.
They have held a series of book sales, which have been very successful, she said. They are reaching out to their gift shop vendors to inquire about virtual fundraising events.
“We are rethinking how we can move forward and enhance what we have done in the past,” Hill Wilson said.
As president, Hill Wilson hopes to build the membership and volunteer base. Many of the Women’s Board members are in a vulnerable age group and unable to volunteer.
“We need to figure out how to rebuild, while maintaining the spirit of the Women’s Board as this is the Year of the Woman,” she said. “We will continue to celebrate going into 2021.”
While moving forward, remembering the organization’s past is important to her.
“We can’t forget all they have done and their resiliency through the years,” Hill Wilson said.
She hopes to further embrace technology and use it to reach a broader base.
She hopes to encourage others to join and take on leadership roles, but recognizes the challenges that today’s women face.
Hill Wilson also serves as the treasurer of the Sandy Spring Civic Association, and says it is difficult to get people involved in all organizations.
“Everyone’s so busy, and volunteerism is not like it used to be,” she said. “But there is something in me that likes to help and do service work.”
She is looking forward to leading the Women’s Board during these uncertain times.
“It’s been fun,” she said. “I am up for the challenge, and have a good team around me.”
The Women’s Board has been in operation since 1919 when a group of women, known as the Ladies Auxiliary, formed to help prepare for the hospital’s opening. It is a volunteer service organization of more than 100 members who raise funds to benefit the hospital and a scholarship fund through operating the gift shop, the thrift shop, and annual events including the Picnic and Bazaar and Gifts of Light program. It has raised over $20 million for the hospital.
The Women’s Board’s 35th annual Gifts of Light will be held virtually at 5 p.m. Dec. 13 on Zoom and the board’s Facebook page. To register for the free event and receive the Zoom link, visit https://womensboardmedstar-giftsoflight2020.eventbrite.com
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