The transport bus at Episcopal Church Home (ECH) in Louisville got a makeover this past spring—including a freshly wrapped exterior with the updated ECH logo and a completely refurbished interior—all thanks to funds raised by the Woman’s Board, an Episcopalian volunteer ministry and independent 501(c)(3) dedicated solely to serving ECH and its residents. But you’d be remiss to think the fingerprints of the Woman’s Board stop there.
The History of the Women’s Board
The Women’s Board dates back to the early 1900s, though it was then referred to as the “Ladies Guild.” The Episcopalian group was first established to help ECH collect the funds necessary to purchase a push-button elevator as well as cover the wages of the elevator operator. In 1914, the Ladies Guild also helped with the installation of electric lighting, a feature that significantly improved the quality of life for residents and staff at the time. In the 1920s, the volunteers turned their attention to enhancing the quality of food served at the retirement community.
In the 1980s, the Women’s Board started managing our gift shop and still does so today. All proceeds are funneled back into ECH for projects like renovating the bus or helping meet day-to-day operational needs. “They look to us for direction as to what residents want and need,” says Bethany Heckel, Director of Development at ECH.
How the Women’s Board Enhances Our Ministry
Today, the Board is about 75 members strong and continues to play an integral role in providing support—both financial and manpower—to better the daily lives of residents at ECH. Besides regularly contributing to our resident scholarship fund which supports those who don’t have the means to pay for things like laundry or salon services and hearing aid replacements, the Board also hosts an annual fundraising luncheon, provides monthly resident scholarships, plans Christmas parties and knits shawls for newcomers.
“They do a lot of hands-on work with residents, [whether that’s] delivering mail or helping residents get to and from chapel every week,” Bethany adds.
The Women’s Board also helps with large scale improvements at the retirement community. For example, they once helped ECH purchase a new steam table, which allows staff members to easily serve warm meals to residents across each neighborhood. This feature is especially helpful for those with limited mobility, who cannot always go to our main dining room.
As previously mentioned, the Board’s most recent donation also helped ECH wrap and refurbish a van that is often used to take residents on field trips around Louisville.
A Legacy of Compassion & Service
The Episcopal Church Home couldn’t be more grateful for the Women’s Board and the work they do. “What’s most remarkable is how devoted [the Women’s Board] is,” explains Bethany. “Not only in their devotion to the organization, but their devotion to caring for older adults. They’re very integral to what we do.”
But what inspires them to serve? Many members of the Women’s Board are second- or third-generation volunteers, continuing a legacy passed down by their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and more. Others have had friends and relatives stay at ECH and see their service as an expression of gratitude for the high quality of care their loved ones received at the community. Still, others are inspired by their Episcopalian faith and see the Board’s work as an extension of the church’s ministry.
Regardless of individual member’s reasons for volunteering, each is united in a common purpose: to serve ECH and help the residents who live there live well into the future.
There are many ways you too can support ECH. For example, you can donate to the Promise Fund, which is the cornerstone of all fundraising efforts. Your generous gifts help us provide quality of life, compassionate care, peace of mind, and more. You can also fill out an information request form to learn more about our services or schedule a tour of our retirement community.