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Dissinger’s nearly 70 years of giving, guidance paves way to WGSH Auxiliary milestone

October 20, 2021

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Joyce A. Dissinger shown at one of the WellSpan Good Samaritan Auxiliary's Street Fairs, held annually from 1949-2018, that raised more than $2.7 million.  Dissinger, the retired WGSH Director of Community Relations, has been involved with the Auxiliary since her teen years. (Photo courtesy of Joyce A. Dissinger)

Joyce A. Dissinger shown at one of the WellSpan Good Samaritan Auxiliary's Street Fairs, held annually from 1949-2018, that raised more than $2.7 million. Dissinger, the retired WGSH Director of Community Relations, has been involved with the Auxiliary since her teen years. (Photo courtesy of Joyce A. Dissinger)

The WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and one member has been involved with the organization for nearly three quarters of its existence.

From her teenage days of serving chicken barbeque at the Street Fair to her current involvement as secretary, 86-year-old Joyce Dissinger has been a part of the fabric of the Auxiliary for nearly 70 years.

“Sometimes things get tough when it comes to the logistics behind organizing events, but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any part of it,” said Dissinger, a lifelong Lebanon resident. “I think we all need to give back and I have been extremely blessed to do that through this Auxiliary.”

On Oct. 6, the WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary turned 100 and it continues to make a huge impact on the hospital, patients and the community.

“We are so proud of what our Auxiliary has accomplished and that it continues to thrive considering many similar organizations across the country have vanished over time,” Auxiliary President Gina Boehler said.
“Our success is a testament to Joyce’s amazing work and contributions over the years. She has been the backbone of this Auxiliary and she has kept us all together through the many changes we faced.”

Starting on the streets

At age 19, Dissinger began a reporting career with the Lebanon Daily News where she worked from 1954 through 1979 as the women’s desk editor and as a copy editor.
She covered auxiliary and Street Fair meetings as part of her beat, and it was that connection that led her to volunteering.

“It has been a labor of love ever since,” Dissinger said.

While the Street Fair evolved as the Auxiliary’s signature event from 1949 through 2018, Dissinger witnessed more than four dozen street fair presidents and multiple location changes during that span.

The Street Fair alone generated more than $2.7 million for WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital for specialized equipment, furnishings and renovations to enhance care for the Lebanon community.

But for Dissinger, the Street Fair will always be about the people and the collaboration.

“I was the one that always took the pictures because the event meant so much to me and the Auxiliary,” Dissinger said.

While the Street Fair’s conclusion was tough on the Auxiliary, the members marched on as they continued to host their popular theme basket raffles at the Lebanon Area Fair.

Seeing the lasting impact

As Dissinger’s volunteer efforts were already helping WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital, her full-time career also shifted to the hospital as she became director of community relations in 1981, a job that extended to her retirement in 2006.

The role gave Dissinger an even closer look at the impact the Auxiliary’s efforts had on the hospital and patient care.

“How did we ever get this idea that this little group of women can raise that money, I don’t know, but we did,” Dissinger said.

The all-volunteer group has provided more than $480,000 in healthcare career scholarships, donated $150,000 to the WellSpan Sechler Family Cancer Center, purchased portable X-ray machines and paid for renovations to the hospital’s New Beginning Birth Suites.

“It’s all about being kind and helping people. We always wanted to help the hospital and make things better for patients and their families,” Dissinger said.

To learn more about the Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary’s impact or for more information on how to become a member, visit: Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary - WellSpan Health