By Jean Clark
In August of 1972, the director of nursing, May Bryant, RN, founded the Wharton Nursing Home Auxiliary — a volunteer group working in consultation with the Uplands Administration to give service to the home in Pleasant Hill as well as financial assistance — not for the budget, but for extras that could make the residents more comfortable and happy.
Twenty-one interested people met at the Homestead on Main St. in Pleasant Hill Aug. 11, 1972, and set up a steering committee. In her later years, May Bryant married Uplands Administrator Larry Chrouch when she was 76. She said that founding the Wharton Auxiliary was her proudest accomplishment. By December 1972 there were 141 members, many from outside the Uplands community. The year 2012 marked the 40th year that the auxiliary, which later reorganized into the May Cravath Wharton Association, has been serving in the Pleasant Hill area.
At the Jan. 14 semi-annual meeting, the Wharton Association celebrated this milestone. Beverly Hull provided old-time music during the cake and coffee reception and then accompanied the large turn-out of members in singing the annual meeting song, “Christian Rise and Act Thy Creed.” The Uplands Village executive director, Richard Woodard, lauded their service, citing many of the ways the auxiliary and association have assisted in the Wharton Homes and the wider Pleasant Hill area.
Dorothy Faunce, past president of the association, wrote and narrated a skit with a brief history of the Wharton Association. Four actors, Chere Schatz, Corey Boniface, Don Nelson and Ted McKnight, depicted 16 different people to tell the history of the auxiliary/association in an amusing way. As Faunce set the scenes, the actors changed hats to identify their characters. President of the Association, Jean Clark, led the members in reaffirming their “Statement of Purpose.”
In the 1970s the Wharton Auxiliary provided receptionists for the Wharton Nursing Home seven days a week, hosted a sociable coffee hour each morning and held teas with singing and games each Wednesday afternoon. They provided a library and librarian, sewed and mended residents’ clothing, visited residents, wrote letters for them, played recorded books for the blind and served as partners in games. Auxiliary members led Bible study, planned excursions and assisted in honoring the 90 Plus Club. Christmas, Fourth of July and sometimes Halloween parties were provided for the residents.
n the beginning, the auxiliary earned money by selling candlesticks, nuts, cakes, Christmas cards and place mats and holding a fall festival each year. With these funds they were able to help supply the extra needs of the nursing home. One of the earliest sales was by the craft group, formerly the occupational therapy group started by Alice Adshead, RN, one of Uplands’ founding mothers. To this day, the craft group gathers on Monday mornings and holds a yearly sale, donating all proceeds to the Alice Adshead Fund, which is used to meet extra needs of the Wharton Home elders.
Gradually, as the Uplands Retirement Village grew, the auxiliary organized yearly sales besides the craft boutique. They were trash and treasure, book sale, silent auction and, most recently, the Sara and Fred Morrison Time and Talent Auction. These sales are very popular with the people (especially antique dealers) of Cumberland, White and Putnam counties and often from further away. Among the cake cutters, Barry Evans was among the co-chairs of the first trash and treasure sale in 1979. This year’s sale is scheduled for April 5, 6, and 7. JoAnn Matheson and her husband worked with Helen and Fred Munson on the silent auction started in 1983 when it was separated from the trash and treasure sale.
In December 1999, the auxiliary reorganized as the May Cravath Wharton Association — “volunteer services to include all who live on this favored mountain — in Wharton Homes, Elizabeth Fletcher House, Uplands Village or in western Cumberland and eastern White counties.” They wished to continue the dream of May Cravath Wharton, “Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands,” honoring her visionary outreach in the fields of health, education and welfare.
From those early days of $2 membership dues, the Association has grown to have a budget of close to $50,000, which enables them to provide scholarships, provide assistance to locals in need, support Uplands Village, the Wharton Homes, Elizabeth Fletcher House of Assisted Living and maintain the Blue Barn where all of the sales except the Time and Talent Auction are held. In addition to raising funds to finance the association’s expanded mission, Uplanders and others from the community enjoy the fellowship that the weekly sales preparation provides all year long.