On February 20, 1862, 24 concerned women met to organize the Ladies’ Aid Society of the German Hospital, later re-named Lankenau Medical Center. This society, the oldest of Lankenau’s auxiliaries, and the second oldest hospital auxiliary in Pennsylvania, was active in raising money for the hospital before the ink was dry on its charter. The first fund raising event was a bazaar that netted $4,000 of the $20,000 needed for the purchase of a dwelling on 20th and Norris Streets—to be the first German Hospital. The Society was officially incorporated in 1901 to insure its independence and to enable it legally to accept legacies.
In addition to providing various volunteer services, supplying linens was the major purpose of the Ladies’ Aid through most of its years of service. In early years, the ladies made the linens. When that was no longer feasible, money was given to the hospital for the purchase of linens. After a review in 1969 reflected Lankenau’s greater need for equipment, the Ladies' Aid Society re-directed their contributions according to recommendations of the Allocation Committee of the Women’s Board for programs throughout the Hospital. Gifts for specific items have since included: sports medicine, the Meditation Room, transportation for school children to the Health Education Center, the summer internship program at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, and the Care Management – Social Services Fund. This 2012, the society gave $40,000 in support of hospital and LIMR programs and continued their practice of knitting caps for newborns.
When the hospital moved to its present location in 1953, the Ladies' Aid Society contributed $50,000 for a Women’s Board Room—located on the sixth floor of the Medical Science Building—where it remained until 2009 when the much anticipated Comprehensive Breast Center was constructed, using that space.
The Lutheran Deaconess community played a very active role in the Ladies Aid Society over many years. The last Deaconess to serve at Lankenau, Sister Lois Ludwig, was President of the Ladies Aid Society from 1986–91. In 2005, the Society dedicated the glass inset of the meditation room door in Sr. Ludwig’s memory.
In 2012, The Ladies' Aid Society celebrated its 150th Anniversary. The Society’s contribution to the ongoing needs of Lankenau Medical Center has been steadfast since its inception, and its members continue to generously devote their time to Lankenau and its community.