Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home
The Rotary Club of Alexandria was organized and chartered in 1928. One of the earlier members Jack Worthington, was named chairman of the Community Service Committee. What to do about “Community Service” was a question. The Kiwanis Club sponsored a clinic for under privileged children, so that was not an option. While other worthy projects were under consideration, some woman of the community, realizing the necessity of a day nursery, broached the subject to Jack Worthington and his committee. They asked the Rotary Club to provide a place where children might be cared for during the day while their parents worked, and promised to carry on from that point. So, the Rotary Club rented a house, borrowed $400.00 to renovate the house and make it habitable, and committed itself to pay the rent. Thus the Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home came into existence.
Within a reasonably short time, however, William S. Snow, a member of the Rotary Club and judge of the Juvenile Court, was faced with the necessity of finding shelter for two unfortunate children. What was more natural than for him to think of the day nursery, which after all could be equipped to car e for underprivileged children overnight? The Rotary Club and the women approved the proposal and the children were accepted into the home, fed, clothed, and cared for, so it was the club’s project developed into a children’s home, as well as a day nursery. Since it was the only institution in Northern Virginia where children could be cared for overnight, it was soon besieged with requests to accept children from outside the city limits of Alexandria. As a matter of fact, two youngsters, who had been deserted by their parents on the Richmond road, ten miles from town, were picked up on cold winter night and brought to the Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home, the new name of the institution. They were accepted, bathed, fed, clothed and cared for until they could be placed in a foster home or their parents apprehended.
The Juvenile Court committed children to the home as a regular practice, the city paying a stipulated sum per child. Other unfortunate children were brought to the home, some being paid for on whatever basis the parent or parents could afford, others being cared at no cost at all.
It was not long until the Rotary Club realized it had a community service project of real proportion on its hands, with expenses mounting with appalling rapidity, far beyond the ability of the club to assume without assistance others than had been provided. We had to go to work and secure funds to augment those being furnished from the Club’s treasurer. At an open meeting, while our desperate situation was being discussed, one of our members, a newspaper sports editor, took the floor and astounded his fellow members by assuring a very handsome fund if the club would permit him to put on a boxing card in the old Armory, although to do this legally it would be necessary to make a benefit exhibition. This resourceful member, Jack Tullock by name, with the able assistance of Harold (Abe) Martin and several other members of the club, put on the boxing card and netted a fair amount toward the deficit at the home. Other boxing cards followed at intervals of from one to three weeks until boxing began legal in the District of Columbia. During the period of the boxing cards, however, we were able to pay off the deficit and buy another house which was in far better condition and provided better facilities, at the cost of $7,500.00, this property being free and clear. In addition to funds derived from the boxing cards continued its monthly contribution and augmented this contribution by fines collected from tardy members, etc. The ladies also continued their work of providing clothing for the children and necessities for the home by giving card parties and other methods of raising money.
When the boxing cards were discontinued, the Rotary Club had a real institution on its hands. The home had grown where it had seventeen permanent children and equally as many day children, the day children being provided from one to three meals a day. We had a matron,a cook and a general house worker. The expense for operating the home had mounted to approximately $5,000.00 per year, which did not include clothing donated and purchased through the efforts of the ladies, nor food donations. There was no rent as the home was clear and being an incorporated institution, there were no taxes. The City of Alexandria paid for some children, committed by the Juvenile Court and some income was derived from parents of the children able to pay, but still there was insufficient money with which to pay running expense.
The ladies worked untiringly, having card parties and other events to secure money. The Rotary Club had bingo parties and would try other means of raising funds, yet there always appeared to be a deficit. We received a donation of $1,000.00 which was used to clear up over $1,300.00 indebtedness, and at an open meeting our Rotary club voted to be responsible for the milk bill, amounting between $600.00 and $700.00 per year. To do this we unanimously voted a method whereby each member pays $6.00 per month to include dues, weekly luncheon and contribution towards our project. Our weekly luncheon costs is 75 cents per member, so it is considered each member actually contributes 25 cents a week towards the Alexandria Children’s Home and Day Nursery. If a member misses at our weekly meeting, and makes up, he is allowed 75 cents credit, but members not making up are given no credit. This plan helped our attendance to some extent, but it has helped out wonderfully in providing funds with which to pay the milk bill at the home. In addition to taking care of the milk bill, we have contributed other expenses at the home, such as installing a better heating plant, costing over $150.00, spending $65.00 for labor for painting, the paint having been donated, $90.00 here and $15.00 there, in fact we contributed over $900.00 from our Treasury in 1937, in addition individual donations from members.
Each Christmas we changed our meeting day, if necessary, in order to have the children from the home join us for lunch on the day before Christmas. After lunch one of our members, playing the part of Santa Claus, hands each child a gift of his or her choosing, in addition to other gifts the club provides. The cost of our Christmas part being prorated among the members.
A former member of our Rotary Club, named as executor of an estate to be disposed of two worthy charities, award our Day Nursery and Children’s Home a total of $8,500.00 which is invested in first montages, the income used toward operating expenses. In less than ten years, therefore, through the sponsorship of our Rotary Club, a home valued at $7,500.00 and an endowment of $8,500.00, a total of $16,000.00 in community service assists, has been provided the City of Alexandria, aside from community service work the home has accomplished since it’s inception.
Recently, the Alexandria City Council included an item of $2,000.00 in it’s budget for this year, this amount providing a definite sum to be contributed by the City towards operating expenses of the home. Our Community Chest will allot a like sum, namely $2,000.00, making a total of $4,000.00 towards our budget which provides for $5,000.00 for the year. This leaves $1,000.00 to be provided from the invested endowment and the Rotary Club, and for the first time in our history we feel reasonably certain of being able to meet all expenses at the Home without everlastingly facing the necessity of getting out of the hole.
All permanent children will, hereafter, be placed in the Home through the Welfare Department, although not necessarily originating with the Juvenile Court. The welfare Department also placing children from the Home in private homes. In place of keeping children in the Home for several years, as has been the case until recently, the Home is to be considered a temporary abode in the future.
The affairs of the Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home are administered by a Board of Directors of 15 members, 8 members of our Rotary Club and 7 ladies, mostly wives of Rotarians.
While our Rotary Club with 31 to 39 members enjoys this community service work, we do feel we have provided our community with something very lasting and which exemplifies the great interest Rotary takes in those less fortunate. In our opinion, a Rotary Club without some very definite aim which serves its community, has very little excuse for existence.
Signed – Ralph H. Bogle, Sr. Chairman Community Service Committee, and member of the Board of Directors of the Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home(January 19, 1938).
In 1966, Rotarian Robert G. Whitton, then President of the Alexandria Day Nursery and Children’s Home, asked fellow Rotarian and attorney Stanley King to draft some changes to our charter in order to recognize that we do not physically operate a day nursery any longer. They provided that we could “assist in conducting” a children’s home; and to “aid and assist by financial contributions” to needy or handicapped children. Thus we now have grants to preschools primarily. Our Directors pay both scheduled and unannounced visits to the recipients and would-be recipients of our grants top check for quality, parental participation.outreach to the handicapped and disabled, and to get a general feeling of the mission of each facility.
The funding of the organization has changed since the late Ralph H, Bogle wrote the foregoing History. Through the efforts of Robert G. Whitton a residual share of a trust created in 1933 by local businessman was left to ADN&CH. By the time the Trustees decided to terminate the trust, the ADN&CH share was over $250,000.00. One Rotary couple who had no children left their entire residuary estate to ADN&CH. With the death of fellow board member Dick Dwyer recently, the Board members have been invited to memorialize him by gifts to ADN&CH. As of this writing this trust has about half a million dollars. We have invested funds wisely and conservatively and are using a fellow Rotary member as our advisor. Gifts in any amount, whether outright gifts or testamentary gifts, are always welcome.
The following Rotary members are on this board:
- Mike Wicks, President
- Lonny Marchant, VP
- Amy Curtis, Secretary
- John Woods, Treasurer
- Paul Anderson
- Pat Clark
- Pam DeCandio
- Lee Duncan
- Mary Ann Karau
- Will Morris
- Tom Roberts
- Donald Simpson, Jr.