GratiTuesday: Whitworth Women’s Auxiliary

Posted by - - Believers, Giving Stories

The faithful women who have comprised the Whitworth Auxiliary for the last century have often worked behind the scenes, but their contributions have made a significant difference in the day-to-day lives of students. The auxiliary began in 1915 as an adjunct organization that met in members’ living rooms. The group’s core tenets were to promote, to plan and to pray for Whitworth, and to provide funds for residence-hall lounges so that students might have a “comfortable home away from home.”

The women began by sewing curtains and making pillows for the lounge furniture, and they took on the role of “dorm moms.” “We papered walls, we painted and we had all the pianos tuned every summer,” said Marilyn Stedman, a member of the Whitworth Auxiliary since 1975. “I joined because my daughter was a Whitworth student and Dorothy Farr-Dixon, the daughter of the founder of the auxiliary, asked me to.”

Since its founding, the auxiliary has grown in membership and has raised nearly $250,000. The meetings moved from living rooms to churches; members now meet on the Whitworth campus. The residence halls remain an important part of their ministry, but they have expanded their mission to address the financial needs of students, which includes supporting educational travel opportunities for international students. In honor of the group’s centennial year, in 2015, the auxiliary established an endowed scholarship to demonstrate its ongoing support of Whitworth.

Best of all, the auxiliary members have fun. The group of 45 active members gathers several times a year to host fundraisers, including Christmas bake sales and bazaars, fashion shows and teas. No invitation is necessary to become a member, and anyone is welcome to join. “One of my favorite aspects of the auxiliary is being able to give back to Whitworth all of the great things that I received during my time there,” said Mary Lee Nickoloff, ’64, who has served as the group’s president. “The auxiliary is also an opportunity for Christian fellowship with a really neat group of Christian ladies who support and care for each other.”