A Look Back


Forty friends joined one grandmother forty years ago after losing one of her twin granddaughters,  Abbie Ray Martin, who was born two and a half months early in 1972.

The problem: A local children’s hospital lacked equipment and funds to properly serve the community.

The solution: The Women’s Board.

Ellen Cavert andtpf-final-who-we-are-banner-1-240x102 friends dedicated their new organization to ensuring that Wolfson Children’s Hospital would always have the resources to provide the finest healthcare available to Jacksonville and beyond. In 1976 the Boehm porcelain exhibit was The Women’s Board’s first fundraising event. One year later, the first Antiques Show was held.

Knowing that this mission would require constant fundraising, The Women’s Board ultimately established two key programs: The Florida Forum and The Art & Antiques Show.   In 40 years, The Women’s Board has donated more than $28 million to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.


The 35th Anniversary Art & Antiques Show theme was “Deco & Diamonds.”


With the passing of time, the service of The Women’s Board has grown exponentially, along with the community’s gratitude for its founder. The 35th Anniversary Art & Antiques Show was dedicated to Founder Emerita Ellen Cavert and her husband, Tillman. Show Chairs Roxane Andrade and Grace Sarber, along with Past President Susan Smathers, gave a special presentation to the Caverts on Sunday afternoon of the 2011 Show weekend during the Jazz Brunch.

Wolfson is the only hospital for children between Orlando and Atlanta. Its world-class healthcare has made international news more than once and attracts children from across the globe. More impressive than the doctors and treatments available at Wolfson is the $36 million in annual uncompensated and charity care provided to children. No child is ever turned away because they lack the ability to pay.

The work of The Women’s Board is increasingly important to Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

The Women’s Board is currently in the fourth of a five-year, $4 million commitment to the Pediatric Surgery Center of Distinction. The program will enable a highly skilled surgical staff to work on advancing surgical techniques, expand the use of minimally invasive and robotic surgery and help the hospital meet the needs of pediatric trauma patients. Additionally, we are still funding other vital programs and clinical equipment needs such as $200,000 for neonatal “giraffe” beds, which act as a womb outside the womb for babies born pre-term; providing two Kids Kare ambulances specially designed to transport babies and children; and hundreds of thousands of dollars for lifesaving ECMO machines, pediatric pacemakers, and special transport carts among other vital equipment.

Baptist matches a large portion of The Women’s Board gifts at 150 percent.

Finally, our work is volunteer-driven and accomplished by expending minimal donations. The Women’s Board meets the majority of its event needs through in-kind gifts, allowing cash donations to go to the children.

Although The Women’s Board was borne from the loss of a child, the true legacy is life. The Women’s Board continues in Abbie Martin’s honor by building a legacy of 43 years in the making…

And we’ve only just begun.


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