Thrift and gift shops keep hospital helpers busy


ON A RECENT Tuesday in the Casino Bargain Basement at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, Marianne Kesting and her group of volunteers were sorting, pricing and tagging clothes, toys, furniture and all manner of donations to be sold in this thrift shop in the hospital's Casino Building.

Kesting is the volunteer chairman of the shop, which is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The volunteers of the hospital's auxiliary give their time to this and two other shops at the hospital. Proceeds from all three are the main source of revenue the auxiliary provides the hospital.

The Bargain Nook and a gift shop called the Gate House are located in the hospital's main building. The Casino, a large old home with a porch all around it, is directly across the street. Sheppard Pratt is at 6501 N. Charles St.

Keats Smith heads the Bargain Nook (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday), and Audrey Chapman is in charge of the Gate House gift shop (weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

This national psychiatric center for treatment, education and research has a clinical staff of more than 450 professionals and specialists and a consulting network of 70 physicians.

In 1853, Moses Sheppard, a local philanthropist, obtained a charter to build an institution for the mentally ill. He died in 1857 and the board of trustees he had appointed was instructed to use only the interest from the $570,000 which he left. Sheppard's Asylum opened in 1891. When philanthropist Enoch Pratt died in 1896, leaving more than $1 million, the hospital's name was changed to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt. Both men were Quakers.

Today, it provides a 322-bed inpatient service plus outpatient and partial hospitalization programs for children, adolescents and adults with all degrees of emotional illness. In the state-accredited Forbush School within the hospital, students under treatment are taught. Also, there are outpatient centers in Owings Mills, Bel Air and Cockeysville plus a mobile treatment team. For hospital information, call 938-3000.

The majority of the hospital's volunteers come from the 150 auxiliary members.

"On any given week, more than 200 volunteers are working with patients, doing clerical work or are in one of the auxiliary's shops," says Elizabeth Barnhart, who has been the director of volunteers and community services there for 20 years. "We would welcome more volunteers in the hospital and the shops," she says.

The active volunteers who were cheerfully giving their time in the Casino Bargain Basement last Tuesday all joked about being "roped in."

Kesting, who has volunteered to Sheppard Pratt for 24 years, helped originally in the medical and patient libraries and with the drug abuse program. She chuckles and agrees.

"I've roped most of them," she says as she introduces some of her Tuesday workers: Mary Grace Pasciak says she's a home engineer; Emmy Grelli is an expert at sweater folding; Marie Cunningham, who lives near Kesting, says "When she wants help, it's hard to say no."

There is Eva Kelleher, who came along when she retired from nursing; Jarvis Orr, a cat fancier, says she looks forward to her one day a week; and Bob Humphrey, retired from Bethlehem Steel, who looks up from the books he is keeping and says, "I'm their go-fer."

"He goes to pick up furniture donated to us," explains Kesting. "We don't pick up clothes because we feel they are not difficult to bring in."

Humphrey keeps the shop's books and is treasurer of the auxiliary.

Other volunteers include Gretel and Karl Kramer and Merryman and Dutch Ford, who volunteer together. Arthur Heige, with the Johns Hopkins University, comes in on Saturdays, and on Thursdays you'll find Elaine Mack and Dorothy Duley.

"We could use more help," Kesting says again.

"The shop is full of so many nice things. We have a good variety of vintage clothes, fine pieces of furniture, toys, small appliances, and some mediocre and some very good clothing. There are also excellent art pieces, such as a Keith Martin painting," she says.

Kesting says that clothing from the Bargain Basement is given to the hospital's patients who have the need.

To volunteer to Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, call Eleanor Barnhart's volunteer office at 938-4850.

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