Dedicated Ladies’ Auxiliary still in the business of improving lives

Dedicated Ladies’ Auxiliary still in the business of improving lives

The organization officially disbanded seven years ago, but the handful of remaining committee members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Jewish Association on Aging are still making an impact in Jewish Pittsburgh.

Raye Felder, Ruth Markowitz, Sharyn Rubin, Shirley Stein, Mary Meyo, Cyna Glatstein and Lila Horowitz meet with Rabbi Eli Seidman, the JAA’s director of pastoral care, twice each year to determine how to distribute the funds left in their treasury to best serve those receiving care at the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and in the assisted living facilities operated by the JAA.

The committee’s most recent grants, which it approved last month, included $1,000 for exercise equipment, $1,000 for white boards for the rehabilitation rooms and $1,000 for two iPads for staff physicians.

“The Ladies’ Auxiliary was created when our founding agency was created, over 100 years ago,” Seidman said. “In 2008, they disbanded their organization, but took the remaining money in their treasury and established a fund so they could continue to be involved in improving the quality of life for our residents.”

The Ladies’ Auxiliary was established in 1906, and by 1964 it boasted more than 4,000 members, according to records collected in the Rauh Jewish Archives of the Heinz History Center.

Throughout the years, the Ladies’ Auxiliary helped to purchase new medical equipment, raised money to enhance the medical care and treatment for the residents and sponsored programs for clinical research. The group also contributed funds to purchase linens, clothing, drapes, furniture, decorations, television sets and books for the residents and hosted activities, including a weekly sewing circle.

The Ladies’ Auxiliary held a popular dinner dance each year, which served as a primary fundraiser, and “had a core of women who were very involved,” said Felder, who served as the organization’s president for five years.

Things began to change for the group when older members began to move, or to die, and younger women were not interested in joining, according to Felder.

“It’s really a shame,” she said. “Other cities have functioning senior auxiliaries.”

Still, the small remaining number of members is dedicated to convening each year in May and November to award grants from a fund currently totaling almost $30,000.

“They are very generous,” said Seidman, noting that grant awards have included funding to help assisted living residents attend outside trips they could not otherwise afford; the purchase of wheelchairs; and the purchase of televisions for the activities room at Charles Morris.

“Since they disbanded, they are still doing what they were doing when they were a functioning organization — improving the lives of our residents,” Seidman said.

The Ladies’ Auxiliary continues to accept donations, said Felder, but is not actively soliciting. To donate, contact Seidman at

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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