As recalled by Marge MacPherson & Susan Reynolds
In 1987, I, along with Susan Reynolds, Director of Volunteer Services, as well as two other volunteers, attended a HANYS state conference in Cooperstown. A group from Florida gave a presentation about Lifesaver Dinners, a successful fundraiser for their Auxiliary. Both Susan and I thought that this would be a perfect fundraiser for the Arnot Auxiliary: hosts would provide a dinner, their guests would make a donation to the Auxiliary (a minimum of $25), and a pre-dinner reception at the Clemens Center would set the tone for the evening. Candlelight seemed appropriate, and Susan had a friend who raised orchids (his business was called, The Black Orchid). He offered to provide orchids for the reception, so it became known as, Orchids and Candlelight.
We had no idea what was going to happen. We were hoping for at least $10,000. Then, the donations began to arrive; suddenly we had received $5,000… $10,000… $20,000… $30,000 – This was beyond our wildest dreams. The first Orchids & Candlelight was a smashing success.
Twenty-three years later, hosts have become very creative and many have theme parties. Guests enjoy playing bridge, bunco, table games, poker, charades, solving a mystery, attending a cocktail party, etc. One party was even held at Eldridge Park. This year, for 2014, the main reception will be held at the Elmira Country Club on April 12.
Over the years, Orchids & Candlelight has grown to involve 800+ people and now brings in over $40,000 annually for cancer care. In 2013, it reached the million-dollar milestone for equipment and care for cancer patients and their families. Since the 1st Orchids & Candlelight event, the Auxiliary has purchased 5 new vans accessible to the physically challenged, to transport cancer patients within a 40 mile radius. Since much of the equipment costs millions, funds have been used to assist in the payment for equipment, such as a Linear Accelerator. Having state-of-the-art care and technology available right here in our own community, provided by caring, highly trained professionals is ideal.