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Lemonade Sale Turns into Legacy Gift

Foundation news | Friday, June 1, 2018

Gift of $1.98 Still Supports Maternity Center

It all started with a lemonade stand more that 100 years ago. The $1.98 profit was the beginning of lifelong giving by a prominent individual leading to the largest bequest to the health system, which today still supports the purchase of maternity center equipment.

At about the time of World War I, a young Ruth Barnhart stopped by Oswego Hospital with $1.98 asking officials, “will you use this to buy something for the babies?” This heart-felt gift was the start of the Ruth Barnhart Baby Ward Fund. Barnhart, who grew up on West Second Street, would go on to attend Wells College and then the Medical College of Cornell University. After graduating from medical school, Dr. Barnhart settled in Roanoke, VA, providing care herself as a practicing pediatrician for some 30 years.

Even though she lived and worked in Virginia, Dr. Barnhart made regular monetary gifts to Oswego Health and as the Barnhart fund grew, she was integral in helping to make decisions on what maternity center equipment would be purchased.

Upon Dr. Barnhart’s death in 2000, at the age of 97, she generously thought of her hometown healthcare system, leaving Oswego Health its largest to date charitable bequest, totaling $5.7 million.

Through the years the Fund has supported the purchase of critical maternity center equipment and continues to support the maternity center today. In fact, thanks to this fund, in 2020 we were able to purchase two new, wireless electronic fetal monitoring systems and five new infant warmers for the nursery.

Philanthropic gifts to support the work of Oswego Health allow the health system to provide the highest level of care with the most up-to-date technology right here in our own community.

Bequests come in many forms. While this gift was large and went into an endowment, many planned gifts are smaller and are designated for current use or a project close to the donor’s heart.

The Foundation staff is always willing to help those interested in furthering Oswego Health’s mission through a gift today or through a future gift. For more information on making a gift, please call the Foundation at 315-326-3795.