Alexandria, VA – A little rain did not deter 140 people from descending on a large house on the banks of the Potomac River Saturday night April 22 to celebrate Twig’s 90th Anniversary. After a full weekend of events, now it was time to kick back, party, meet up with supporters and TWIG heads, and revel in all the money raised for a noble cause.
But first. What is The Twig, you ask? And why the reference to a branch of a tree?
The Twig is The Junior Auxiliary of Inova Alexandria Hospital. The organization provides volunteer services, offers scholarships, financial aid, and purchases equipment in support of Inova Alexandria Hospital. In 1933, a group of 24 young women met at the home of Julian Burke and formed The Junior Auxiliary of Alexandria Hospital. The group took its name, “The Twig” from a contest entry by Nellie Sommers Blackwell. The name describes the organization’s origin as a small branch of the “tree” which supports the city’s Hospital.
“We think we are going to make the $300,000 mark for the first time ever and it could go higher,” declared Twig President Michele Cumberland. “Our new commitment to the hospital is a half million dollars every 3 years.” Cumberland added, “$200,000 will go for a breast reconstruction microscope post-surgery. The other $300,000 will go towards upgrading Alexandria Hospital’s trauma level so that people who are in serious accidents in the city don’t have to be transported to Inova Fairfax or Washington Hospital Center. They can be treated in their own community, making it easier for family to visit.”
To celebrate this 90th anniversary, the organization hosted a fun weekend, chock full of activities and events that included a tour of the Lyceum Exhibit, and Happy Hour at the Thrift Shop, followed by an Old Town Walking Tour Down Memory Lane and a Sunday morning brunch.
The signature event was the Reunion party on April 22 at the home of Wendy Mercer in Mount Vernon, who opened the doors to her beautifully appointed house just down the river from George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, to thank the supporters. Although days of dazzling sunshine gave way to thunderstorms and pounding rain throughout the afternoon, the skies parted just a little to allow guests to drift outside and enjoy dinner and drinks on the patio overlooking the Potomac River. Participants were treated to tasty hors d’oeuvres and a colorful full table charcuterie, displaying meats, cheeses, crudites and assorted jellies and jams. An outdoor bar allowed guests to mingle in the cool mist and take in the stunning river view. Bright fuchsia and white azaleas adorned the expansive yard.
Vice Mayor Amy Jackson addressed the crowd. Afterwards she remarked, “we appreciate Twig. In January, we recognized them in City Hall chambers on their NINETIETH year!” Jackson emphasized, “volunteers are the engine that continues to drive Alexandria, especially during the whole pandemic. Without our volunteers, a lot of things would not get accomplished in our city!” Jackson posited, “We don’t have that many city staff so it’s up to our community members to do for the community. There are so many ideas and helping hands. You just shake your head in awe.”
Twig also runs a successful thrift shop at 106 N. Columbus Street in Old Town Alexandria, The store features designer clothes, jewelry, out of print books, housewares, and small furniture.
Just last month, the Alexandria City Council unanimously approved construction of a new 1.1 million-square-foot Inova hospital on the grounds of the old Landmark Mall. The state-of-the-art mega-complex will include cancer and trauma centers, and a medical office building.
“So much is going to come out of this Twig and new hospital partnership,” Vice Mayor Jackson asserted. “All the funds Twig raises for the hospital benefit the entire community.”
As the lights on the boat pier came on and the Saturday night party wound down, 90th Anniversary Chair Kathy Hirsch reflected on the evening.
“I feel amazing,” Hirsch beamed. She congratulated all the women who worked endlessly to plan the events and volunteer at the Thrift Shop.
“These women, they come from all walks of life, and all they want to do is raise money for Inova Alexandria Hospital. We needed to improve our hospital. I am so proud to be a Twig!”
Since its founding almost 90 years ago, The Twig has contributed more than $4.5 million to Inova Alexandria Hospital. In addition to fundraising on behalf of the hospital, The Twig participates in numerous events to support hospital staff and the local community. More anniversary events are being planned through the end of 2023.