POMONA -- It all started when a group of women saw a job that needed to be done and decided to do it.

The 1937 job was to help unite Pomona Valley Hospital with the community it served.

The hospital asked for help and 24 women answered. The group formed an auxiliary in order to help where it could. Marie Endicott was its first president. That was 75 years ago and today the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Auxiliary is stronger than ever and still supporting the facility that helps those in need.

Back then auxiliary members helped furnish patients' rooms, bought beds for nursing students to sleep on and planted a victory vegetable garden on the hospital roof to provide fresh produce to the hospital. During the years the jobs got more involved and expensive.

The auxiliary helped raise money to build the hospital's first pediatric wing in the 1950s, created a Sick Baby Assistance Fund to help families pay their medical costs and in 1990 it pledged $1 million to help build a cancer care center. It took the auxiliary only eight years to accomplish its goal and the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center helps countless individuals deal with the challenges of the disease.

With all that and more in mind, the hospital and the community it represents said a collective and very public thank you to the auxiliary last week with a delicious and moving tribute dinner.

The volunteers - all 1,000 of them ranging in age from 14 to 104 years old - contributed 92,000 hours of service alone in 2011. They answered phones, delivered flowers, took dinner menu requests, helped calm friends and family members awaiting news about patients coming out of surgery, held hands and offered smiles in difficult times.

It's been quite a task and the hospital is grateful.

"This is a very special night. We want to give a toast and say thank you to the men and women who have inspired us for 75 years, said Richard Yochum, hospital president and chief executive officer.

Yochum clearly enjoyed taking guests on a quick trip down auxiliary-memory lane.

He recounted some of its history and accomplishments, while continuing to focus on the group's lifeblood, its volunteers.

Jane Goodfellow is a 30-year auxiliary volunteer and the present chairman of the hospital board of directors. Her message was simple but heartfelt. "Without you it just wouldn't work," she said.

Stacy Mittelstaedt, coordinator of volunteer services, said the dedication and commitment shown by each volunteer is a testimony to the strong connection the hospital and community have shared from the very beginning.

These individuals have brought the gifts of caring and giving to the entire Inland Valley. And although each volunteer is special, two have stood out.

Nancy Magnusson is the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award winner. The retired teacher began volunteering in 1975 and has amassed 7,000 hours of service. She served as auxiliary president from 1988 to 1990, has served on the hospital board of directors and the hospital Foundation board, has been on numerous committees including the Heartbeat Gala fundraiser for the Stead Heart and Vascular Center; and was on the grand opening committee of the new cardiac catherization lab in 2003. She continues to volunteer and hosts a yearly tea at her home for all auxiliary presidents.

Leona Roe is the 2012 Legacy Award winner. Roe is the widow of long-time Pomona pediatrician Dr. Harold Roe who took it upon herself to play a very active role in the auxiliary. She was its president from 1967 to 1969.

The 104-year-old accomplished a great deal during her 65 years of service including the establishment of the then Candy Stripers (female) and Handy Stripers (male) program known today as the Junior Volunteer Program.

Roe stood to acknowledge her honor while those who attended gave her a standing ovation.