The annual Fairlawn Haven Auxiliary Auction is known for its unique items.
From handmade quilts and wooden toys to plants, candy, and pies, each item tells a story of love and concern for others.
This year, at least one item is unique for more than one reason.
This item was purchased at the auction in 1971, and is being resold to make a difference yet again.
The baby bed on wheels was originally purchased by Fern Schrock and her husband, Ceaphus. It was already an antique at that time.
“Mr. R.L. Lorton was the superintendent of schools, and he and his wife donated it. It was white, as I recall,” Schrock said.
“I think it was $100. My dad and my husband bid each other up.”
When Erie Sauder started Sauder Village, “Erie asked me if I would be willing to help.”
“The first time that we went to look for things in Indiana (for Sauder Village), one of the places had a big wheeled (bed) like that. Erie said parents used it to push (children) outside when they worked outside.”
The family refinished the baby bed.
“I think we put a little mattress in it. We figured out what it should look like.
“I remember Sarah (her granddaughter) was in it. I’ve got that picture,” Schrock said.
In the early auctions, she said, “We made everything!”
Schrock said she potted dozens of cuttings from sweet potato plants to sell at the auction.
“I grew the plants. We grew everything we could think of. We were trying everything!” she said.
“We found anything we could. I remember finding pieces of wood and asking people, ‘Would you do some artwork on them?’ I still have some of them.”
Not only are the auction items unique, but some of the food sold at the meals has a story, as well.
The Thursday night Philly cheesesteaks, sponsored by Zion Mennonite Church, have just such a story.
Auxiliary members decided to start making the sandwiches “because people liked them so well, but I didn’t know how to make them,” Schrock said.
“I was in Pennsylvania, because that’s where we visited my family, and I went to an old man that had a meat market.
“I said, ‘I’m going to ask you a personal question, but I want you to know it’ll never affect (your business). I want to know how do you do it?’
“He told me how they get the meat and freeze it partway so they can slice it thin enough.
“That’s what I did. We did it (cooked the meat) with skillets. It really should be done on a grill. They weren’t perfect, but people liked them.
“And you need good cheese! If you want to do it well, you’ve got to put a couple kinds of cheeses in it.”
Visiting Other Homes
Started in 1969, the first sale brought in just over $3,000 for the Fairlawn “Benevolent Fund.”
The first auctions were held at Yoder & Frey, and quickly outgrew the facility. They were moved to the high school.
The first director of Fairlawn asked some board members to see some other nursing homes as they were getting Fairlawn up and running. One home was a Jewish nursing home in Toledo.
“One of the things she said while we were there, ‘The one thing about this place– no one will ever need a home that won’t get it here. It’ll have nothing to do with money. We’ll be able to say, we can take care of you,’” Schrock said.
“The more I listened to that, the more I said, ‘If they can do that, so can we.’ The Mennonite Church is big enough. We don’t have to worry about that, either.”
Nowadays, the Benevolent Fund helps residents, “especially residents who run out of money while they’re here.
“They may be here longer than anyone anticipated, and they outlive their money,” said Mari Yoder, Director of Development.
“Now that we have Medicaid and Medicare, we don’t need as much for the Benevolent Fund.
“As the facility has grown, there have been other needs.”
Last year, the auction brought in about $20,000, which was spread out to help fund the chaplaincy program, birthday flowers, monthly bingo for the residents (with prizes), and some specialized equipment.
All funds raised through the auction are directed by the Fairlawn Auxiliary.
“It does not go into a fund that Fairlawn directs. The Auxiliary and their board do that.
“They usually come to me and ask, ‘What does Fairlawn need?’ Yoder said.
“I then go out and ask our nurse managers and our management team, ‘What’s the wish list that’s out there?’
“I usually try to bring them three or four things that they see as needs.”