Bonnie Brae | Women’s History Month
Women have always played instrumental roles in Bonnie Brae's history. We are grateful to celebrate their past, present, and future presence to continue our mission to empower youth and families through comprehensive care and education.
Founding Women: The Women's Auxiliary
When Bonnie Brae was first founded, a group of women provided a wealth of diverse support towards ensuring the maintenance and care of the Bonnie Brae home and its youth. This group was known as the Women's Auxiliary, or "The Dining Room Committee," chaired by Mrs. Osborne, the wife of Bonnie Brae founder Judge Harry V. Osborne, Mrs. Walton Graft, Mrs. Arthur Herrmann, and Mrs. Frank Sundstrom. This founding group helped raise funds for Bonnie Brae youth through Bridge games, painted and decorated the home, and planned outdoor activities and events for the youth.
When Bonnie Brae moved to its current location in 1920, women organized fundraising events to pay for renovations, furnishings, and a new gymnasium. During World War II, gas rationing prevented women from reaching the campus to provide direct help. However, they continued their fundraising efforts off-campus. Nothing deterred these women from supporting Bonnie Brae, even in difficult times.
Women's Legacy: Community and Leadership
Today, their legacy can still be found in our community and among Bonnie Brae's leadership. One of Bonnie Brae's oldest groups, the Matinee Theater Group, was formed in 1956 by Mrs. Carey. Mrs. Carey organized group trips to Broadway shows to raise funds for the Auxiliary. Now in our 67th year, more than 250 members continue to enjoy the fun and ease of a luxury bus ride into New York City while enjoying the company of friends, lunch, and five fabulous shows each season.
Board member Laura Jenkins is the fourth generation of the Osborne family to serve on our Board of Trustees.
"I'm honored to continue the legacy of the women who have supported Bonnie Brae for over 100 years," shares Laura. "The women who care for the youth, the women who teach, the women who fundraise, the women who provide healthcare and counseling, and the women on the Board of Trustees and former Auxiliary. Since 1916, women have been integral in executing Bonnie Brae's vision to transform the lives of more youth and their families. I believe the women who have preceded me would be proud that we're expanding our services to support females!"
New Crisis Center Expansion at Bonnie Brae
In late 2021, after serving young men and their families for over 100 years, we opened our first out-of-home program that serves young people of all genders. This program is led by several women, including the program manager, clinician transition specialist, nurse, and teacher!
“Youth admitted to the Cherry Tree Lane Crisis Stabilization Home feel that their trust and faith in others is already broken and beyond the point of repair,” states Shatira Baldwin, Program Manager. “Here at the Chester house, our staff work diligently to continue to show up for the youth, standing by their word, meeting their needs, and showing them that with hard work and consistency trust and faith can be rebuilt over time.”
We are grateful to honor the women who have championed our work within the Bonnie Brae community. We join in this month's celebration to recognize women everywhere and their impact on healing and supporting the communities they serve.