Toni Garrard Clay
The Athens Review
Several contingencies descended on Austin this past week, when “Athens Day at the Capitol” was observed. But none garnered more attention as a group than the 23 men and women dressed in pink and teal.
“I felt like a celebrity,” said Janet Davis. “I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.”
Janet and the others in the group are volunteers with the ETMC Athens Auxiliary. The presence of the auxiliary members at the capitol was a result of State Rep. Lance Gooden authoring a House Resolution to honor the auxiliary, “and extend to all those associated with the organization sincere appreciation for their vital contributions … as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives.”
“We received so much attention, because we had our pink jackets on,” said ETMC Auxiliary President Ruth Lang with a laugh. “Other tourists in the capitol even took pictures of us.”
Auxiliary members were taken as a group to the capitol early Tuesday morning in a chartered bus provided by ETMC Athens. They arrived on capitol grounds just after 9 a.m., where they were greeted by ETMC Athens Administrator Pat Wallace, who was already in town for a meeting.
“Mr. Wallace and our friends at the hospital took such good care of us,” said volunteer Marge McDaniel. “We were treated like royalty the whole time by the hospital and by Lance’s office.”
Soon after arriving at the capitol, the 23 auxiliary members were ushered inside to await the reading of their resolution on the floor of the House of Representatives. Five auxiliary members were able to go out on the floor with Gooden, while the rest of the group watched from the gallery above. Those five were Jean Holmes and Tommie Watson, who both helped charter the auxiliary 52 years ago, Jim Alexander, Lynn Coach and Lang.
“When we went out there, the people gathered around the podium, shook our hands, congratulated us and welcomed us. They said to each one of us, ‘Welcome to your house.’ It was an honor just to be there, and to look up and see everyone in the gallery. It gave me chills.”
After the reading of the House Resolution, Gooden took the group out to eat, where he spent time speaking with everyone.
“I enjoyed visiting with Lance and his legislative director John [Stavinoha],” said auxiliary member Doris Gardenhire. “Lance sat at different tables, and talked to each of us. We were treated so well.”
After their meal, the group set off again for Athens, quieter than they had been on the morning journey, but feeling honored and happy.
For information about becoming an ETMC Athens Auxiliary member, please call the hospital gift shop at 903-676-1137. Applications may be picked up there, as well.