GNH Community

nonprofits,local leaders & Grt.New Haven business sharing information

A History of Mary Wade by the Daily Nutmeg

From 1866 to 1966, Mary Wade Home, now a community for seniors in Fair Haven, was called the Home for the Friendless. 

It wasn’t a refuge for the socially inept. “Friendless” was a euphemism for “vagrant, idle, and homeless girls,” many of whom became pregnant out of wedlock and were then “betrayed” by the father, according to a 1992 edition of the Journal of The New Haven Colony Historical Society. Given the sexual politics of the day, such women were considered pariahs. Their old friends might refuse to associate with them. Their own families, too. With no one to take them in, little viable employment opportunity and a child to support, these women and girls were pointed to the Home, where they would receive shelter, food and vocational training in the hope that the girls might one day find husbands or, at the very least, a self-sufficient livelihood.

sponsored by

Yale School of Music

The Home for the Friendless had its beginnings on September 8, 1866, when a group of ladies from various Protestant churches in the area gathered in the residence of Henrietta Edwards Whitney, widow of the famed inventor Eli Whitney. The women assembled there for the purpose of starting a home to provide both shelter and training in “all branches of domestic service and needle work.” At their next meeting, they elected their first president, Maria St. John Sheffield, along with the Board of Managers and other staff—all Protestant, and all women.

In 1866, with $6,000 in donations, the group bought the house on Clinton Avenue where the place still stands. All residents, some 50 at any given time, were expected to participate in chores. The Home sold milk and eggs from livestock kept on the property, and with donations of food, toys and clothing, they managed—albeit without central heating.

In the mid-1890s, the Home—with more residents and children than originally anticipated—was in need of a new wing, which a $20,000 gift from philanthropist Lucy Hall Boardman funded. The wing was named for Boardman’s sister, Mary Wade, though Wade’s name wouldn’t represent the home in its entirety until 1966, when “Home for the Friendless” was deemed sorely out of date.

Early on, there was a hard religious bent to the Home. In reports from the time, some newly arrived girls were called “sinners” or were said to have “darkened souls.” One young woman, after some sort of transgression, was forced to stay in bed for a number of days until she became “penitent and respectful.” Another who struck a matron with a broom was simply arrested. Roman Catholics, although not officially excluded, were at times turned away because of their faith.

By the turn of the century, some of the girls at the refuge were no longer young. For women who couldn’t find a husband or job, the Home—which would typically house girls for six-month stays—became a permanent one. Over time, the Home began accepting a larger number of elderly women and, by WWI, almost all were older—many of them 70 and above.

When David Hunter, current President and CEO, began at the Mary Wade Home in 1981, most of the residents were in their 80s, and all were still women. It was Hunter who began Mary Wade’s transition to a place for men, too.

“Yale was going co-ed. We followed suit,” Hunter says. Not everyone liked the idea. “There was one woman who said, ‘First man who comes in these doors, I’m leaving,’” he recalls. But one of the first men, an Irishman and a retired railroad employee, was a charmer. “He brightened up the day,” Hunter says, and soon enough things were rolling smoothly.

The Mary Wade Home is now nearing 150 years old, and it’s a far cry from the destination for wayward girls it once was. Today, Mary Wade provides a continuum of care for the elderly—day programs, short-term rehab, full-time assisted living and full-service nursing home care. One of the largest employers in Fair Haven, the facility has a staff of about 270 looking after 94 total beds, which are nearly always occupied. It has a fleet of eight vehicles that make a combined average of 800 trips a month, bringing residents to church, to grocery stores and to doctor’s and dentist’s appointments.

For entertainment, Mary Wade doesn’t confine residents to an endless limbo of Bingo games. It contracts with iN2L (“It’s Never 2 Late”) to deploy a system of computer hardware and software geared towards the elderly, providing access to the internet, music, photography and games, including a version of Family Feud that’s particularly popular with residents. Of course, Bingo is available, too.

Each year, the Home has two major public-facing fundraisers: a wine dinner, the next of which is coming up on April 30, and a golf tournament in October. Besides these events, revenues come through payments for services, private donations and money dedicated from residents’ wills—presumably a gesture of appreciation to the place that made their final years lively and comfortable.

I met one particularly lively, comfortable resident whose love for the Home needn’t be presumed. First, while waiting for the elevator, she said in a sing-song sort of way, “I used to be old and bald and sexy. But no more. Now I’m old and bald and fluffy.” But as the elevator doors closed, she called out to me, so that there’d be no doubt: “My name’s Rachel. I love Mary Wade.”

Mary Wade Home
118 Clinton Ave, New Haven (map)
(203) 562-7222
Website | Facebook

Written and photographed by Daniel Shkolnik.

Views: 36

Comment

You need to be a member of GNH Community to add comments!

Join GNH Community

Now available in multiple languages

Welcome (Bienvenido, Benvenuto, Powitanie, Bonjour! Willkomme,歡迎, ברוךהבא أهلا وسهلا, Bonvenon) to GNH Community

traducción, traduzione, tłumaczenie, traduction, Übersetzung, 翻译, תרגום أهلا ترجمة, traduko

                    

Imagine. Inform. Invest. Inspire.

Working together to build a stronger community - now and forever

 

 

Neighborhoods: What is Working

Open Street Project

An Open Streets Family Reunion: Reflections from the 2018 Open Streets Summit

By Ryan O’Connor, Director of Programs, 8 80 Cities Recently 8 80 Cities wrote a blog post about open streets being a labour of love. That being the case, the 2018 Open Streets Summit in New Orleans felt like a family reunion of sorts. It was rejuvenating to see old and new friends who share our passion for open streets and are working tirelessly to create healthier, happier, and more connected communities across the world. The event, which took place on September 15-16, brought together more than 50 leaders who currently organize open streets programs or are interested in bringing the...

The post An Open Streets Family Reunion: Reflections from the 2018 Open Streets Summit appeared first on Open Streets Project.

Open Streets Summit Draft Agenda

We hope you are getting ready and feel excited about the Open Streets Summit in Gretna/New Orleans! Taking place from September 15-16, 2018, the Summit will feature tours, presentations and networking opportunities with open streets champions and organizers from across the continent. Attendees will learn about the nuts and bolts of starting or scaling up open streets programs, including: Route design and planning Partnerships with business and officials Social inclusion Safety and logistics Marketing and promotion Program evaluation through measurable goals and metrics If you haven’t done it yet, click here to register for the Open Streets Summit only or...

The post Open Streets Summit Draft Agenda appeared first on Open Streets Project.

Open Streets Summit Speakers Announced!

The Open Streets Project is proud to announce that Ed Solis from Viva Calle (San Jose, CA), Romel Pascual from CicLAvia (Los Angeles, CA), Jaymie Santiago and Charles Brown from New Brunswick Ciclovia will join us as speakers for the 2018 Open Streets Summit in New Orleans and Gretna! Taking place from September 15-16 2018, the Summit will feature: Behind the scenes tour of the City of Gretna’s inaugural open streets program. Workshops, presentations, and networking opportunities with open streets champions and organizers from across the continent. Training and inspiration for both -novice and experienced- open streets organizers and supporters...

The post Open Streets Summit Speakers Announced! appeared first on Open Streets Project.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation

The Justice League

We first published this story about the RVA League for Safer Streets and its co-founders, Jawad Abdu and Paul Taylor, in January. Sadly, Jawad Abdu died of a heart attack on July 13, 2019. We are reposting the article to commemorate Abdu's work and commitment to his community, which will be carried forward by his partners Taylor and Robert Morris.  In less than three years, the RVA League for Safer Streets, a basketball-plus-education program for young men from Richmond communities with high crime rates, has had an extraordinary peace-making impact in the lives of participants—and on the city at large. Its founders were informed by experience and insight wrought by decades behind bars, which is why the League is dedicated to keeping people out of prison, and helping those who are returning to become successful members of their communities. The article that follows contains audio quotes from the League's founders about pivotal experiences in their lives in and outside of prison.

For the Love of the Game—and the Neighborhood

For 13 summers running, Hoops in the Hood has offered a safe, healthy and enriching outlet for Chicago children in nearly 20 historically under-invested neighborhoods. With support from LISC and State Farm, the program has had a tranformative impact on its participants, and their communities.

Walking the Talk of Racial Equity

LISC Phoenix’s Dominic Braham is a 2019 PLACES fellow with the Funder’s Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (alongside LISC NYC's Grace Chung). When the fellowship brought him to Newark, NJ for a site visit, it sparked a realization: Braham saw that he had to think critically about pushing for racial equity from both an individual and an institutional perspective. In a blog for the Funder’s Network, he shares the toolbox he’s been assembling to challenge the status quo in community development leadership, and to convert conversations about change into action.

© 2019   Created by Lee Cruz.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service