After 100 years, the St. Jerome’s Guild is thriving and continuing its mission of being an organization of women who work together to benefit the community.
Helen Batchellor, has been a member of the nonprofit guild since 1949, back when they held many dinner dances, and parties for newly born babies.
The group is celebrating its Centennial at the Jerome Center by holding a public reception at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 14), enjoying an afternoon with No Blarney’s Rich Conroy, who will provide Irish songs for the party. It is located at 16 Bank St. in the City of Batavia.
“It’s a get-together time for everybody,” Batchellor said. “I spoke to a couple doctors that worked at St. Jerome’s a few years ago and they said they’re looking forward to coming. It’s a nice thought.”
Batchellor said the Jerome Sisters, who started the guild, bought the property on Bank Street in 1917, where the guild still resides today.
“At that time there was an epidemic of influenza,” Batchellor. “The little hospital that we had, wasn’t big enough.”
The group of nuns who formed St. Jerome’s Guild were originally from Ireland.
“They were very active in taking care of the sick,” Batchellor said.
When the Jerome Sisters purchased the land on Bank Street, there were wooden houses at the time.
Judy Stiles, a research assistant at the Genesee County History Department, assisted Batchellor in filling in the dates from the guild’s history that she could not remember.
“Everyone at the Genesee County History Department has been a big help with the history,” Batchellor said.
Batchellor said the guild has advanced in their technology use since she first joined.
“We’re trying to evolve with modern technology,” Batchellor said.
While they don’t hold dinner dances, or other events as fundraisers anymore, Batchellor said they depend on their gift shop.
“It is located in the Jerome Center now,” Batchellor said. “It has been very successful.”
The gift shop has unique giftware items that artisans from coast to coast have designed, including jewelry, purses, and country aprons.
The guild donates funds yearly to the hospital for new equipment, and has a scholarship for students pursuing higher education for a career healthcare.
Batchellor said times have changed a lot since 1917 during World War I, and the flu epidemic.
“Things change, people change, and I guess we have to change with it.”