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Family keeps volunteering tradition amidst hospital move

By Mary Jo Ola,
Published On: Mar 11 2014 12:21:02 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2014 12:40:33 PM CDT

Sauk Prairie Hospital first opened its doors in 1958, and since then one family has called the facility their second home.


Sauk Prairie Hospital first opened its doors in 1958, and since then, one family has called the facility their second home.

Marilyn Hirschleb and her aunt Kay Accola are volunteer managers at the hospital gift shop. Hirschleb started her volunteering career 25 years ago, Accola 22 years ago.

However, both women served before then on the Auxiliary Board.

The two women sat together in the current hospital gift shop, known as Sunshine Patch, piecing together their volunteer careers. There was a humorous disagreement over when Accola started.

"I moved here in 1951 and probably started beign active in the hospital in 53 or 54 soon after I moved here," said Accola.

When she was reminded the hospital opened in 1958 Accola laughed and said, "Oh well I don't know. Okay whenever it opened I was here. I'll be here for the other opening."

"I was here in high school when the hospital first opened," said Hirschleb.

The family's involvement didn't stop there. Hirschleb's and Accola's sister-in-law, Carroll Accola, also served the hospital since it opened in the 1950s. She was the president of the hospital's auxilary board.

During an interview at her home Carroll Accola, 96 years young, said working for the hospital was just something you did if you had the time.
"Being the hospital here, it was just one of those things you take pride in," said Accola.

As Hirschleb and her aunt sat together in the gift shop they talked about the Sauk Prairie Hospital's move into a brand new 44,000 square foot, $50 million facility.

"Change is always a good thing. So I think everybody is looking forward to it," said Accola.

The women have experienced plenty of change in the hospital's history. They say the biggest change was transitioning to a computerized cash register.

As they flipped through the hospital's historical scrapbooks the two reminisced about charity balls, quilt shows and other fundraisers they helped put together.

These days the pair come in at least once a week to manage the gift shop, and fill in when necessary.

"Sometimes we get called because somebody else can't make it. We still go," said Hirshleb when asked if it ever got old.

"I've never felt that it was a chore even getting up that early in the morning, except this winter has been exceptional with the cold weather, but you just do it because its your job and you like it so you go," said Accola.

Accola will retire from her volunteering career when the new hospital gift shop opens. Hirschleb will continue to stay involved.

Sauk Prairie Hospital will host an open house March 22. There will be a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. and tours will run 10:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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