LVC co-chairs (left to right): Pamela Oswald Louis, Jen Brountas and Hattie Kessler.

“Builders created the physical structure of MGH, but it’s the LVC that creates layers of comfort in the hospital’s soul,” says Pamela Oswald Louis, co-chair of the LVC.

The LVC is one of the oldest hospital volunteer auxiliaries in the country. Now marking its 155th anniversary, the group began in 1869 as the Ladies Visiting Committee. As the times changed, the LVC did too, widening their member base to be more inclusive and - this year – renaming themselves after the pillars they stand for: Legacy, Vision, Commitment. What has not changed is the work they do to make a difference. The group of dedicated volunteers remain unwavering in their mission to enhance the comfort and well-being of MGH patients, their families, and staff. One of the ways they do this is through the distribution of grants that support patient-facing programs and initiatives.

“We have a rich history of pioneering and financially seeding social service projects,” says Hattie Kessler, co-chair of the LVC. “We give the initial grant, and as the project grows and expands, the hospital is handed the reins.”

Some of the most notable projects that began with support from the LVC include The Gray Surgical Waiting Area, Coffee Central and the MGH Chapel, of which they remain guardians of today.

“These places touch the undercurrent of what connects us as humans,” says Oswald Louis. “It’s in our DNA to help each other, and to comfort each other. Maybe that’s with a prayer; maybe it’s with a cup of coffee.” 

Kessler says: “When someone is in their time of need, it’s the little things that go a long way. We give humble grants when we can to anyone who demonstrates a need that is in line with our mission.” 

Through LVC grants:

  • The MGH Cancer Center bought Buddy Chairs for the infusion unit, so patients can be comforted by family or friends sitting nearby.
  • The Sean M. Healey AMG Center for ALS Research and ALS Clinic purchased vein illuminators to ease the process of intravenous access for patients.
  • The HAVEN (Helping Abuse and Violence End Now) Program purchased bus tickets and grocery coupons for survivors of intimate partner abuse.
  • The Special Care Nursery bought books in multiple languages to ensure every baby will go home having at least one book.

“We exist to keep contributing to the hospital,” says Oswald Louis. “We get to do all these great things because of the shops.”

The LVC oversees the MGH’s six retail shops. They include gift shops, a flower shop, a shop that outfits medical professionals with scrubs and basic gear, a hair and nail salon, and a boutique that helps with prosthetics and wig fitting. Proceeds from all sales go directly back into the hospital to fund patient programs, services, and activities.