Board of Lady Visitors: Fundraising 1870 – 1950’s -Back to Top

  • In 1870, twenty women pledged their time and energy to help furnish and support the District of Columbia’s original Children’s Hospital. The founding Board of Lady Visitors, now The Board of Visitors (BOV), brought twelve cribs, infant bedding, and towels to the Hospital’s first location near present-day Metro Center.
  • During the Hospital’s first fifty years, various successful fundraising events were hosted by the Board of Lady Visitors including numerous teas and fairs, and The Kettledrum, an opera in which Board members took part. Appeal letters were written by individual board members, garnering many thousands of dollars.
  • The 1876 Children’s Hospital Ball was one of the earliest fundraisers organized by the Board of Lady Visitors with proceeds supporting the Building Fund Campaign of 1876. This first Ball raised $991.00. The Children’s Hospital Ball became the most spectacular event of Washington’s social season with revenues increasing by the thousands year after year.  The President of the United States was almost invariably present, beginning with President Chester Arthur (1881-1885) and ending with President Coolidge (1923-1929). In 1928, tickets to the ball sold for $5 each —  less than 10 cents from each ticket sale was devoted to expenses.
  • The Board of Lady Visitors assumed publication of the THE ARROW from 1927 to 1946 after St. Mary’s Guild, the original publishers, was disbanded. THE ARROW was a monthly newsletter advertising the needs of the Hospital throughout the community. These efforts brought in many gifts of money and equipment each year.
  • To found The Thrift Shop in 1928, Children’s Hospital partnered with five like-minded organizations devoted to the care and welfare of children . An immediate success, The Board of Lady Visitors worked faithfully as volunteers pricing and selling objects in the shop, expanding their expertise on behalf of similar money-raising projects such as the Annual Antiques Show. For many years, sales from  The Thrift Shop were the Board’s chief source of funds. From 1955 to 1967, more than $5,000.00 per year was donated to Children’s.
  • To better serve visitors and staff at Children’s Hospital, the Board of Lady Visitors launched the Snack Bar in 1953. From an initial profit of several hundred dollars, each succeeding year the return increased, reaching a record high of $20,000.00. From 1953 to 1970, monies raised totaled approximately $150,000.00. In 1960 the Snack Bar expanded within the Hospital.  Nine years later, Snack Bar operations were transferred from the Board to a professional outside vendor.

Board of Lady Visitors: Fundraising 1960’s – 1970’s -Back to Top

  • An ongoing, annual “Sustaining Fund” letter campaign. In 1964, the appeal raised $40,000, equivalent to $333,000 today.
  • A fashion show, dinner, and dance.
  • A patient illustration contest and the winner’s drawing appeared on a Christmas card sold in 1972.
  • A Baseball Benefit, which was a successful fund raiser for several years.
  • “Caroling for Children” began in 1972, raising $9,000 that first year, and continuing into the 1970s. Adult and youth groups sang throughout the area in neighborhoods, hotels, and shopping malls.
  • In October 1977 a dance was held at Bloomingdale’s providing a $10,000 donation to the Sustaining Fund and $10,000 to the Board.
  • In 1978 a benefit dance was hosted at the OAS Building which raised $20,000.
  • In the new Children’s Hospital, which opened in 1976, the Board opened a small gift shop in the Hospital lobby creating a new revenue source. Holiday themed gift shows were hosted at the Hospital and at Board member’s homes.

Board of Lady Visitors: Fundraising 1980’s – 1990’s -Back to Top

  • In 1980 the Board and the Child Health Center Board created a Fundraising Raffle. Together with the Hospital Board of Directors, the Corporate Board, and Friends of Children’s Hospital almost a million dollars was raised.
  • The Coffee Cart was established in the Hospital west wing in Fall of 1993 in partnership with a private company. Well-received by hospital staff and visitors, it proved to be a steady revenue source for the Board.  A second coffee cart was later added in the Atrium. In the 1990s, the Carts generated approximately $15,000 a year for Board initiatives.
  • The Thrift Shop moved to 2622 P Street N.W and continued to provide the BOV with income, shared with five local charities.
  • The Washington Antiques Show, established in 1954, continued to be an impactful fundraiser for the Board throughout the 1990s.
  • In 1994 the “The Imaginary Luncheon” was created raising more than $8,000.
  • A Children’s Hospital scarf was designed, produced, and sold by the Board.
  • For three years in the 1990s, an “Autumn Adventure” event occurred. This fundraiser, complete with a Halloween Haunted House, was held in Reston, Virginia.
  • The 0011 and Teddy Bear Show benefit selected Children’s Hospital as its charity for three years. The Board and the Development Office were responsible for the raffle during the show raising almost $20,000 in funds.
  • The Board hosted two Theater nights, Chicago and Ragtime, both were  followed by cocktail and dessert benefits.
  • In the Fall of 1999, Southern Accents magazine selected the Board and the Child Health Center Board (CHCB) as recipients of their 3rd Annual Design Show House in McLean, Virginia. This fundraiser netted $50,000 for the Board.
  • Other events included the Board’s participation in the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, Mazda LPGA Championship (1990-1993) and the Marine Corps Marathon.
  • A Vintage Affair began in 1998, first hosted at local restaurants. Given its success, the event moved to larger venues and continues today.

Board members together after a race

I’ve been on several philanthropic boards but nothing like this one. This is an amazing group of bright and energized women who can roll up their sleeves, get to work and accomplish anything we set out to do. I have so much respect and admiration for our dedicated Board who, simply put, make things happen.

– Sandy, Honorary Member since 1985

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