From the festive atmosphere present Wednesday evening at the renovated Day Room on the fifth floor Geriatric Unit at St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital, Coaldale, there was a feeling that the expanded facility is money well spent.

The informal social gathering was held to unveil the refurbished Day Room as well as to thank the donors who made it possible.

"There has never been a time when philanthropy and the generosity of donors to this hospital hasn't been appreciated," said Micah Gursky, St. Luke's Miners director of development.

That is particularly true in the current economic climate, which has been tough on smaller, rural medical facilities such as St. Luke's Miners, Gursky added.

This year the hospital is celebrating its 100th anniversary of its founding in 1910.

"Its mission then, as it is now, is taking care of local people," noted Gursky.

The new Day Room is about three times the size it was previously and is a place for geriatric residents to eat meals, have family visitations, activities and events.

"It is like the living room for our home," remarked Gursky.

The hospital holds two major fundraising events each year, a golf tournament and the Black Diamond Dinner. The initial Black Diamond Dinner was held two years ago at Penn's Peak, Jim Thorpe, with the theme A Night at the USO. A slide show from that inaugural event played on the monitor of the flat screen television mounted on the wall of the Day Room.

"From those events, we were able to raise $115,000 from over 200 donors," related Gursky. "No government grants have gone to improve this room here. Your donations make a difference each and every day."

This year's Third Annual Black Diamond Dinner will be held on March 13 at Penn's Peak, with the goal of raising funds toward the hospital's $3 million Intensive Care Unit project.

Gursky said the hospital also benefits from other philanthropic works, such as those of the Tamaqua LEO Club, which started the facility's first endowment fund, The Art of Caring, in which artwork hanging in the hospital corridors is sponsored by donors.

Jill Hoppes, LEO Club historian, reported that $7,500 of the $10,000 goal for the endowment fund has been raised to date.

Deb Holmberg, administrator for the geriatric unit, sees the Day Room utilized regularly by its residents.

"I've never had a job where I look forward to coming to work each day like this one, and there is never a minute this room is not used," said Holmberg. "We're very community-oriented here at Miners, and we're one big family. Every day, you can hear a laugh coming from the residents, and with that, we're very blessed."

Kids For America, which features members of the Gilbert family from Easton, performed three songs during the social, including "Sing," "Sisters" (from the movie White Christmas), and a medley of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "God Bless America." It was an encore performance at the hospital by the group, which raises funds for families with members in the military.