New Canaan Advertiser Op-Ed: "Who built Waveny Care Center?"
Posted on November 2, 2018
New Canaan is a town uniquely rich in a tradition of philanthropy and civic service, and the landscape of our iconic local nonprofit organizations is a visible representation of that spirit. In the 1960s, town leaders Dana and Marilyn Ackerly and Drs. David and Charlotte Brown identified the need for a local nursing facility to serve their elderly neighbors and future generations. As Dr. Charlotte Brown explains, there was a real necessity to create this resource, saying, “We all had friends and parents who would need care, and we wanted them to stay close to home.”
Planning began in 1967 for a health care complex to be located at the corner of Old Stamford and Farm roads. Mrs. Ruth Lapham Lloyd had recently donated her Waveny estate to the Town of New Canaan and specified in her deed that a portion of the property be used for a medical purpose. The convergence of these circumstances set the stage for Waveny Care Center.
To launch the community fundraising effort for the Care Center, she made a $1 million challenge gift to encourage donations to support construction of a community-based nursing home providing in-patient, out-patient, and day programs. Ground was broken in September of 1973 after a successful first phase of fundraising, with dedicated volunteers and officials calling the effort a “unique service that filled a gap in the health care spectrum.”
Donations of all sizes
In a groundswell of local support, more than 2,000 individuals, families, and local businesses made contributions to that $4.25 million community-wide campaign, with donations of all sizes, including some donors who gave 50 cents (which equates to about $2.75 in today’s dollars). That range of residents’ gifts for the Care Center shows the breadth of support in the New Canaan community for Waveny’s work then, and that strong connection to the town continues today.
Our community rightfully takes a personal pride in this organization. As reported in the New Canaan Advertiser on April 11, 1974, more than 750 New Canaanites (representing 15% of New Canaan families at the time) came together to volunteer as fundraisers. Their goal was to ensure “that the entire town could have the opportunity to participate through giving to this exciting new community-oriented” health care service. The fundraising goals included both the construction of the new facility as well as establishing a financial assistance program “to extend care to those less able to pay.”
Early campaign leaders included David Brush, Henry Noble, and Kenneth (Moon) Hannan who championed this important cause and devoted hours of volunteer time in a display of dedication that inspired New Canaan in their call to action. Their examples and efforts ensured that Waveny Care Center was built and survives to this day as a leader in elder care, supported by generous residents who appreciate the unique resource. Their legacy lives on as a visible testament to the long term impact of these generous and forward thinking residents, and the special resources at the corner of Farm Road and Old Stamford Road will forever reflect their vision.