By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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The guild gave out the yearly profits from its thrift shop on Second Avenue and Bell Street to Olympic Medical Center's laboratory, Peninsula College's School of Nursing and the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic at the guild's annual luncheon at 7 Cedars Casino.
“We've had a really good year at the shop. Even though the economy does seem to be improving, I think we've superseded it,” guild President Jean Janis told the sellout luncheon crowd of 160 Wednesday in the casino's Club Seven lounge.
“And guess what? Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., we're open.”
The shop's stock was unveiled in a display during the holiday-themed post-luncheon fashion show on the Club Seven stage.
Guild members scoured the store's racks to assemble outfits designed to highlight holidays.
Since its founding in the early 1970s, the guild has donated more than $2 million to area health care organizations.
The guild donated $15,000 to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic, this year's top recipient.
“I could just say a great big thank-you. This is an amazing contribution to our services,” said Rose Gibbs, director of the clinic.
The funding will be used to help pay prescription and health care costs to the clinic's approximately 2,000 patients, 350 of whom use it as their primary care facility, Gibbs said.
The clinic, which treats those with no or insufficient insurance, also gives out about $250,000 worth of prescription assistance to patients, a number of whom rely on the clinic for diabetes medication.
“Without us, they certainly wouldn't be able to afford the insulin that keeps them out of the hospital,” said Gibbs, joined by the clinic's new executive director, Jean Stratton.
The guild's $11,700 donation to the OMC laboratory will be used to purchase a fluorescent microscope, lab director Steve Blackham said.
The microscope, Blackham said, will be used to identify some slow-growing pathogens and fungi.
The hospital currently has to send out tests to have labs with equipment such as fluorescent microscopes determine whether an organism associated with tuberculosis is in a person's system.
“Now, we will be able to stain the body fluid and detect if it's there very quickly,” Blackham said.
That will keep patients from having to be isolated and held longer than they need to be, he said.
He noted that the guild has donated more than $400,000 to OMC since its founding.
Peninsula College's School of Nursing was given $5,000 from the guild for scholarships.
Mary Hunchberger, executive director of the Peninsula College Foundation and College Advancement, said applications for scholarships at the nursing school have risen to 225 this year, nearly triple the 80 applicants from a year ago.
Four students are enrolled under the guild's scholarship, she added.
“Next year, because of your generosity, we'll have many, many more,” Hunchberger told the guild crowd.
Longtime guild volunteer Norma Valeske was recognized at the lunch for more than 24 years of working in the thrift shop and training other employees.
A special scholarship was awarded to Jenna Tmajko, a Sequim High graduate who now attends Chamberlain College of Nursing in Phoenix.
Kasey Jones was sworn in to replace Donna Huswick as the guild's secretary.
The new slate of officers is: President Jean Janis, Vice President Addie Curtis, Secretary Kasey Jones, Treasurer Debbie Kahl and thrift shop Chairwoman Sue Tondreau.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.