Our History

Peninsula Guild #1 History

The Peninsula Guild #1 is one of the guilds within the Tacoma Orthopedic Association (TOA), recently renamed Mary Bridge Brigade.

The TOA was organized in 1921 with a primary purpose to support health care for children. The goal of the TOA was to provide charity care for those children plus develop a children’s hospital in Tacoma. Many of the children suffered from orthopedic problems which required special therapy and braces. The early TOA supported a bed designated for Tacoma children at the Seattle Orthopedic Hospital at a cost of $250.00 per year. TOA members transported the children to Seattle. By the late 1920's, money was raised by collecting dues of $1.00 from members, from various projects such as collecting “tin foil”, and from holding events, e.g. the Roosevelt birthday balls. The first guilds were organized in the 1930's and in 1955 the goal of building a Tacoma children's hospital was achieved with the opening of Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.

The vision of the many TOA guilds and the women in each one was and is simple: meet the expanding health care needs of children served by Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center.

The money raised each year supports the purchase of major medical equipment and assists in the construction of new clinical facilities, pays for uncompensated care, and funds specialty pediatric programs and improved medical technology.

The TOA recently changed its name and logo. We are now the Mary Bridge Brigade: Champions for Children's Health. After more than 90 years and raising more than 30 million dollars, the name and logo are different but our mission and vision and goals of helping Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center to meet children's health care needs remains constant, strong, and vibrant.

1948 Thrift Shop

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1972 Kimball Drive Thrift Shop

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1972 Kimball Drive Thrift Shop

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Our guild, the Peninsula Guild #1, was organized by eight Gig Harbor women on May 24, 1948. The “#1” was put at the end of our Guild's name as it was assumed there would be more than one guild on the Peninsula and in this way we would be recognized as being the first. When our charter was signed in October 1949 membership had expanded to 18 members. The original officers were Mrs. D. C. Winney, president, Mrs. John Davies, vice-president, Mrs. J.H. Galbraith, secretary, and Mrs. Lee Thrash, treasurer.

Early projects included bake sales with the first sale earning $10.50. A modest start indeed! “Theatre showings” were also held in the first years. The first showing netted $45.75 and enjoyed a full house. Dish towels were sold at the theater showings. A license plate drive was done in conjunction with the Brown's Point Guild. Wrapping paper and ribbon were sold. “Penny Jars” were filled. Dues were $4.00 with $3.00 going to the TOA. In 1956, the guild decided to consolidate its efforts with a three-day event dubbed “The Country Store.” This was always held in March in an available empty store or space offered by a Gig Harbor building owner. Everything from donated items to homemade jams, candy, baked goods, and coffee were sold. The project became a financial success grossing $1000 to $1400 yearly.

In 1972 the Guild decided to operate a permanent thrift shop open four days a week. Asta Thurston, who owned property on the main street of Gig Harbor, offered one of her small buildings on Harborview Drive to house the project. It was meticulously refurbished by the women of the Guild and their husbands to resemble a delightful old-fashioned country store. It became the second financial success.

Indeed, it was such a success a storage shed had to be erected
in 1974. The project earned approximately $8000 annually.

In 1978 the Country Store was forced to move from the downtown Thurston property as it was sold after the death of Asta Thurston. Tom Galbraith, of the J. H. Galbraith Company, very generously offered the Peninsula Guild use of a piece of land he owned in the Pioneer Square shopping area at the top of Pioneer Street on Kimball Drive. (Years later, Tom Galbraith willed the property to the Tacoma Orthopedic Association, now Mary Bridge Brigade, with the stipulation that the Peninsula Guild could remain on the land “For as long as they needed it.” ) The storage shed built on the Thurston property was relocated to the present site and was converted into what we all call the Thrift Shop.

1980s Thrift Shop

A long ten years later, in 1988, a new storage annex was built to house the donations. Susan Christianson Brennen, a local contractor, donated her labor to build the Annex. The Annex made our jobs so much easier and efficient. Yet the decision to build the Annex was a difficult one as it meant less money was given to Mary Bridge Brigade (MBB) even with the donated labor of a local contractor. By now our thirty women (and supportive spouses) were working very hard, sorting donations and manning the shop twenty-four hours a week and giving MBB thousands of dollars annually. In 2013 our main project is still our Thrift Shop, which is a highly successful business in Gig Harbor. Some of our Thrift Shop customers have been with us for all our 40+ years. Many of our community's children have been “raised” with the Thrift Shop and now bring their children to shop. Over the years it has become more than just our fund raising project for MBB.

It is a “recycling” place for the community and surrounding area and an affordable store for high quality clothing, books, toys, and household items. It is the hunting grounds for treasure hunters and eBay sellers and it is a meeting place for friends. It is the place to look first for a costume, a spool of thread, a replacement for a broken vase, or a used copy of the latest book by a current best-selling author.

Our fund raising efforts now also include an annual Christmas Sale and an Antique and Collectible Sale. In recent years, the Christmas Sale has been held in available local buildings through the good will of the owners as well as in our store. The Christmas Sale starts on the first Tuesday of November. The Antique and Collectible Sale is held at the shop mid-summer on a Saturday.

Our total project donation dollars to MMB, supporting Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, surpasses 2 million dollars over our 68 years. Surely our original eight ladies would be stunned to learn how our donations have grown since their first projects. This amount of money entails many, many long hours of procuring, sorting, displaying, and working in the shop. Our members are enthusiastic, very hard-working, willing, cooperative and caring, fun, and definitely serious about earning as much money as possible for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. Many of our members also take (or have taken) active roles in Festival of Trees, MBB committees and board meetings, the Board of Trustees, working in the hospital gift shop, and generally give many hours and much effort to supporting our Guild and Mary Bridge Brigade.

After the fire necessitated a new shop and to go along with the updated look of Mary Bridge Brigade, we voted to change our name from Peninsula Orthopedic Guild #1 to Peninsula Guild #1. New building, new name, same important mission.

September 4, 2013 Gateway News Article Clipping

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Material Sources:
Peninsula Guild #1 History Up-date compiled and written by
Lolamae (Lu) Betz, past Guild Historian, deceased, Edie Walker, past Guild
Historian, and Betty Faulkner, past President, deceased. Pat Page, current
Guild Historian. Karen Lynch, Mary Bridge Brigade, History Committee.

Text written by Pat Page (Guild Historian), Bev Reinvik (current Guild Pesident), Charmayne Umbowers (Guild member).