An excerpt from The Sullivan Heritage – Pg. 43 – Meanwhile, Mary Mildred was becoming deeply involved in charity work. Her first project was a natural for her. In 1866 she joined six other women in forming a temporary organization, the New York Ladies Relief Association, devoted to raising money for Southern women and children left destitute by the war.

Soliciting for this cause in postwar New York wasn’t easy. “Not one cent!” exclaimed one Canal Street merchant whom Mary Mildred approached. “They are rebels, and they ought to starve!” Nonetheless, the association managed to collect at least $20,000 – a significant sum in those days – to be distributed by clergy in the Southern states.

Later that year, one of the other members of the association, Mr. Henry Action, recruited Mary Mildred to serve on the board of one of New York’s major charities, the Nursery and Child’s Hospital. This pioneering organization provided a wide range of services to poor women and children. It operated a maternity and pediatric hospital, day-care center, and orphanage in Manhattan, and also a satellite center in what was then rural Staten Island. One of its main sources of support was an annual charity Ball, perhaps the most important event of the city’s social season. The ball took place every February in a large central hall such as the Metropolitan Opera and was thronged with the city’s most affluent and prominent citizens. Mary Mildred quickly became one its most active trustees and would later rise to be its leader.

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