‘Enchanted Forest’ in Kalida supports St. Rita’s medical education

KALIDA — The Four Seasons Park was transformed Saturday into an enchanted forest.

There were gnome houses and unicorns. A magic wand factory and storytellers. And plenty of kids in costumes for the Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Volunteer/Auxiliary Resource’s latest fundraiser to benefit the Graduate Medical Education Center.

“The kids enjoy it,” said Linda Black, president of the St. Rita’s Volunteer/Auxiliary Resource. “The smiles on the kids’ faces when they say, ‘Look what I did.’ ”

The Enchanted Forest event is one of the first the volunteer auxiliary has hosted outside of Allen County as it expands outreach efforts into a broader region of the health system’s service area, Black said.

The volunteer auxiliary, which has raised more than $9 million since its inception in the 1950s, pledged $1 million several years ago toward the GME building as St. Rita’s was starting to expand its residency and training programs.

The campaign is now three-quarters of the way toward its $1 million goal, or about $750,000 of the way there, according to Mark Miller, director of St. Rita’s Volunteer/Auxiliary Resources.

The volunteer auxiliary donated the first $240,000 of its $1 million pledge toward the project last September.

The GME building formally opened last June, serving as a focal point for St. Rita’s growing residency and medical education initiatives, including a new partnership with The Ohio State University that will bring third- and fourth-year medical students to Lima for clinical training.

The volunteer auxiliary has previously supported efforts to purchase 3-D mammography units and expand opioid addiction treatment through St. Rita’s.