Just as the United States got involved in World War II, the medical school of Wake Forest College in Wake County moved to Winston-Salem. It became the Bowman Gray School of Medicine and was allied with the North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Led by Mrs. Coy Carpenter, wife of the first Dean, and Mrs. Tinsley Harrison, wife of the first chairman of the Department of Medicine, the wives of the faculty members formed the Bowman Gray Guild in 1943. The Guild began as a social group but evolved to include service projects to benefit the hospital. Making toys and picture books for pediatric patients marked the first service project.
The Guild expanded to forty members in 1946 when the wives of the house staff were included. New service projects included a bookmobile (stocked by collected books and magazines) and wrapped donated Christmas gifts for hospital employees.
Shortly after the hospital opened in 1923, the state’s Baptist churches started contributing to an annual Mother’s Day offering for the care of indigent patients, a practice that continues to the present. In the 1950’s, Guild members prepared promotional material sent to churches prior to Mother’s Day. About the same time the growth of the membership was such that the Guild established a board of directors to handle its affairs.
New efforts undertaken by the Guild in the sixties included arranging the medical school’s annual party for graduating students and managing the Graylyn swimming pool. Acting as hostess for prospective medical students began in 1969 and continues to the present, creating a favorable impression of the school. Interest groups, covering varied and changing topics, began in the sixties and remain a popular Guild activity.
In 1971, the name was changed to the Medical Center Guild. The constitution was amended to allow designated spouses of persons from the medical school and the hospital to be members. Fund raising through bake sales and photographing newborns was begun. A benevolence committee made recommendations of funding requests from anyone in the medical center for non-budgeted needs.
In the early 1980’s the Guild undertook larger fundraising efforts such as Designer Show Houses to establish a low interest student loan fund and a Cook’s Tour which contributed significant funding for the Adolescent Care Center
In 1990, a second Cook’s Tour raised funds for a future contribution to the proposed J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging. In conjunction with the Garden Council, the Guild held another Designer Show House in 1991. The gathering of resources in the nineties enabled the Guild, aided by the Hawthorne Hill Society, to present a sculpture, Grandparents, to the Sticht Center. The Guild cooperated with the Medical Alliance of the Piedmont in successful fundraisers including MedBowls, MedShows, and Game Nights that provided substantial support to the Crisis Control Pharmacy and the Community Care Center. These entities provide free prescriptions and medical care for patients lacking insurance.
An oral history of the Guild that consists of 27 one hour tapes was compiled by Jean Cooper in 1995 and is held, along with Guild records, in the Dorothy Carpenter Archives of the medical school library. A second oral video history was prepared in 2017 in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Guild.
ln 2000, the Guild pledged $25,000 to establish an endowed Medical Center Student Scholarship Fund, later named the Sandy Poehling Medical Student Scholarship. Through a number of fundraising efforts, including Appreciation Day baskets in 2001, Appreciation Day bags in 2002 and the annual bake sale, the pledge was met. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, a Wine Tasting Gala and Auction Benefit was held annually. The No-Go-Gala was in 2006. In 2007, a Rising Stars Holiday Auction was held, all adding to the fund. In 2004, the scholarship was awarded to its first recipient.
In 2008, the Guild and Alliance had their fall joint meeting in the evening as a Murder Mystery Fundraiser for the new Hospitality House, now known as SECU House.
In 2009-2010, Guild members, with donations of time, money and home furnishings, transformed the Global Health House into a warm and gracious home for visiting medical students and faculty.
Volunteers designed and decorated a tree for the annual Festival of Trees — a fundraiser for Brenner Children’s, and our members gave generously to the “Meals on Wheels” program providing hot meals for older adults in our community. Our members funded, baked and staffed our annual Valentine’s Bake Sale supporting the Medical Center Student Scholarship Fund. Many creative hours were spent to ensure success for our “Racing to Save Lives” auction in support of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. Remaining funds from the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 budgets were donated to the Office of Church and Community at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
In 2016, the Medical Center Guild became a department of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center under the Office of the CEO. Then in 2019, the Guild officially changed its name to the Wake Forest Baptist Health Medical Guild in order to include members who work for the Wake Forest Baptist Health community outside of the Medical Center itself.
Wake Forest Baptist continues to honor the traditions established by its founders in 1943 and offers its members a wide variety of opportunities to provide services and form friendships.