Labor Day is a time when hard workers can relax and take a bow for what they’ve accomplished. So I’d like to take the opportunity to give credit to those who work hard as volunteers. Bless them. What would we do without them?
The volunteers I want to spotlight help make the world a better place, and they do it with joy in their hearts. They are the extraordinary ladies with the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Guild, an organization celebrating its 65th anniversary. They not only volunteer at the hospital, but also create fundraising events that have helped make the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center possible, and now they are generously supporting the Hycy and Howard Hill Neuroscience Institute.
The good work done by the ladies never ends, and they go about their duties with tremendous dedication and good humor, as I found out at their annual installation tea. It was attended by special guests Dr. Raul Mena and his wife Barbara, Theresa Meyers, Executive Director of the Providence St. Joseph Foundation, and Sister Rose Byrne. Although everyone deserves recognition, let me put a special spotlight on Jackie Van Beveren, who has more than 30,000 volunteer hours with the Guild. That’s incredible!
The new officers who are at the helm of the well organized group also deserve a shout-out. The ladies installed on the executive board for 2011-2012 are President Kathleen Marsden, First Vice President Patt Scully, Second Vice President Jackie Van Beveren, Treasurer Sharon Reid, Recording Secretary Jill Allen, Corresponding Secretary Ann Venti, Fall Director Karen Barragan, Finance Director Maureen Walsh, Special Event Director Dee Call, Spring Event Director Lucy Brown, Gift Gallery Charwoman Maria Balke, Parliamentarian Ollie Vick, Press Chairwoman Terry Campbell and Program Chairwoman Marian Enos. Many were members of the outgoing board, which means these tireless ladies are like Energizer bunnies— they keep going, and going.
The Guild’s next fundraiser is their Annual Fall Card Party and luncheon on Oct. 5 at Lakeside Golf Club in Toluca Lake, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bridge, Poker, Rummy Tiles, Gin, Pinochle, Mahjong, Bingo or the game of your choice can be played. Please call Deedee Walser (818-766-2747) to make the required reservation by Sept. 30, and get tickets to enjoy a lovely day with your friends.
Now let me put the spotlight on the superb pianist Jim Maurer, who has been volunteering at the hospital for about seven years. He is in the main lobby of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, most days between noon and 3 p.m. He plays tunes to bring joy to others, and he epitomizes the healing effects of music, helping people have a better day, as I saw personally during a recent visit.
Maurer is a local Valley fellow who has been celebrated as a musician by luminaries in show business. Born in Ohio, Maurer started playing piano at a young age, and continued while serving in the U.S. Army, stationed in Europe. Jim mentioned that while in Rome, he had the honor of joining in an audience with Pope Pius XII at the Vatican. He recalls that shaking hands with the Pope was a life-changing experience.
After his stint in the Army, Maurer returned home to attend Ohio State University to study design. He also continued playing the piano at a local supper club where he met and became good friends with Phyllis Diller. He reports, “One night I got a call from Phyllis asking me to help restore and redecorate the former Shirley Temple estate that she had just purchased. So I left for California.”
That call also launched Maurer’s musical career in Los Angeles. He began playing engagements at the best hotels in town, and became the regular pianist at the St. James Club. During this time Maurer played for Hollywood’s elite. The likes of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis (a big fan of Jim’s music), Elton John, Ringo Starr, Michael Feinstein, Bobby Short, Sharon Stone and his old friend Phyllis Diller, were among his loyal following.
Maurer was invited to play for many private parties, because guests would rave about how his music turned an event into a really fun evening of entertainment. He notes that Mitzi Gaynor’s Christmas parties were sensational. And he played for three years at the Universal Hilton.
Now in addition to his professional gigs, Maurer volunteers at St. Joseph’s where he happily shares his gift of music. That’s why he has a “Hero of the Week Award” by KNX Radio 1070, and Certificate of Recognition from the City of Burbank, and the California State Senate, Women in Theatre’s Red Carpet Award, among other honors.
Lifting spirits as he plays, Maurer doesn’t think of it as work, but this Labor Day he deserves to take a bow.