Unwavering Spirit: The Women Behind the Pink Uniforms
Vol. XXII, No. 1, 2024
Known affectionately as the Pink Ladies because of their uniforms, the altruistic and generous women of the Women’s Auxiliary have been instrumental in supporting the AUB Medical Center, its patients, and members of the AUB community over the decades, providing kindness at all times. Since the group’s inception in 1950, they have donated thousands of dollars and volunteering hours, raising money for the purchase of needed equipment at the medical center, promoting education through nursing student scholarships, and aiding patients with financial needs.
Amal Takieddine Najjar, president of the Women’s Auxiliary, joined the group in 1994 after returning to Lebanon from Harvard University. She says, “The camaraderie, joyful, dedicated, and compassionate spirit of the ladies in pink creates a healthy and wonderful environment for work within the medical center. Together, we support the AUB Medical Center and continue to accomplish our noble mission.” The Women’s Auxiliary has witnessed several challenges over the years, most recently the ongoing economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the closing of its services, including the coffee shop, for two years. Yet the group continues to carry on, and the coffee shop is now open again.
As Nabila Firzli, director of the coffee shop and former president, recalls, “We have been through difficult times before, and it has not deterred us. In 1986, the Women’s Auxiliary was undergoing financial problems, and it was decided to shut down the kitchen. I refused this decision and asked the board to give us a three-month probation. They accepted, and after one month, we made lots of profit and increased the amount of money donated.”
The Women’s Auxiliary started with 70 volunteers doing various jobs at the medical center from running the coffee shop which offers donations to the adult patients, to handling the Bargain Box which offers donations to the pediatric patients, to serving coffee to doctors in operating rooms, to providing patients with newspapers. Now, it operates with 36 volunteers who find it fulfilling to serve and support the medical center.
“Working in the coffee shop is very rewarding in providing the opportunity to interact with our customers and make them feel at home,” says Gharid Nourallah Sabah, cotreasurer and cochairperson. Nuhad Nassif, treasurer of the coffee shop, adds, “I chose to work with the Women’s Auxiliary because I like their spirit and their aim to help needy patients. It’s a blessing belonging to AUBMC and the Ras Beirut community.” Leila Khalaf, former president and current vice president of the group, explains that the sole requirement for volunteers is a passion for giving and helping. “Mrs. Marston, one of the founders, brought me to the Women’s Auxiliary. I knew nothing about it, but as I was a girl scout, I knew a lot about giving and helping. So, I liked it very much.”
For seven decades, members of the Women’s Auxiliary have been the heart of the medical center, giving abundantly of their time and energy. As President Amal Takieeddine Najjar says, quoting Khalil Gibran, “You give but little of your possessions. It is only when you give of yourself that you truly give.”