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UPMC Women's Committee votes to disband

| Friday, July 18, 2014, 2:11 a.m.
Carol Waterloo Frazier | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
UPMC Women's Committee member Gert Curry sits in the lift chair donated to the rehabilitation department at the hospital by the committee while occupational therapist Julie Walter, left, committee secretary Linda Meredith and committee president Shirley Orendi watch how the chair works.

It was a bittersweet day for Shirley Orendi when she showed off the lift chair the UPMC Women's Committee purchased for the hospital's rehabilitation department to members of the group.

During the group's meeting earlier that day, members voted to disband after 24 years of service.

“This was our last meeting,” said Orendi, who has served as the committee's president since its inception. “I feel really sad because we worked very hard. A lot of our members are in ill health and can't contribute like they used to. This is just a very sad day.”

The group evolved from the Chamber of Commerce's Women's Committee. “Fran Kittiko was a member of the chamber and active at the hospital,” she said. “When we were looking for a place to meet and support, Fran suggested the hospital. It would have been so nice if we could have made it one more year to celebrate 25 years. But that didn't happen.”

The Women's Committee had 25 members, with 12 of them being active, Orendi said.

At the final meeting, the group voted to donate $1,500 to the rehabilitation department at the hospital with the rest earmarked for the cancer fund. The lift chair was the last item donated to a hospital department.

“We had a lift chair, but it no longer worked,” said Julie Walter, a registered and licensed occupational therapist and a certified hand therapist at the hospital. “We really needed a lift chair for training patients so this was such a big help for us. This is something we've needed for years. We are very appreciative of what the Women's Committee did.”

Through the years, the group has donated many items needed by various departments in the hospital. Some of those gifts were wheelchairs, defibrillators, lift tables and horticultural beds. “We have given a lot of things to the hospital,” Orendi said.

Donations were possible because of money raised from fashion shows, card parties and the sale of strip tickets.

“This is truly the passing of an era,” she said. “I thought I'd be doing this until I couldn't do it any longer. I always thought younger women would join. I'm just very sad about this.”

Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1916, or cfrazier@tribweb.com.

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