On May 5th, the world will celebrate International Midwives Day, a 27-year tradition that recognizes the work of midwives around the world. The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery (FTSM) will be celebrating the occasion with a cocktail party and silent auction at the Thomas Center on May 5th from 6-8:30 to raise funds for the preservation and restoration of the historic Howard Kelley House.
Constructed in 1883, the Howard Kelley House boasts a long, dynamic history and was home to many owners including a glass manufacturer, students, a cardiology practice, and even a Salvation Army headquarters before FTSM’s arrival in 2004. With the largest class of FTSM students arriving this August, the large-scale preservation project for the house is an important piece of the school’s future success. There are also aims to ramp up the FTSM program in the coming year with new anatomical models, library updates, and diversified scholarship options for students along with new partnerships and continued engagement with long-standing community connections.
“It is exciting to watch the spark of midwifery catch fire and future generations embracing the call. Every person deserves access to the maternity care provider of their choice so they can make informed decisions and realize healthy birth outcomes,” explains Executive Director, Susan Nelson.
The Friday celebration will honor Jennifer Wollheim Devine and Jane Houston, leaders in the Gainesville midwifery community. Wollheim was an FSTM graduate, instructor, and Clinical Director who passed away nearly ten years ago and has been honored by her family and friends through the Wollheim Devine Memorial Fund to assist in the education of midwifery students. The fund provides emergency funds for students struggling along their journey through the FSTM programs.
Houston, FSTM’s Board Chair is also being honored for her professional contributions as a midwife and clinical expert. Houston was in the first DNP class of the University of Florida, graduating in 2009 and continued her career in education becoming Director of Midwifery there from 2011-2015.
Another driving force to make this event possible has been the Gainesville community. As Administrative Coordinator Veronica Stehouwer explains, “Many local and statewide businesses have generously offered their products and services to support the event, and we are honored and proud to showcase these partnerships. This town is so full of ingenuity, charm, culture, and spice.”
Businesses and individuals can get involved by donating silent auction items, giving tax-deductible charitable donations, in-kind advertising, and attending the celebration. Tickets to the event range from $15-30 and are available now until May 5th.