Nearly one year after its 100th Birthday celebration was thwarted by the pandemic, the Manchester Woman’s Club gathered Friday at the Manchester Historical Museum to dedicate a beautiful dogwood tree to mark its role in supporting the start of the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) in Massachusetts.
The tree, was donated and planted by Bartlett Tree’s Jack Ingram.
Karen Webber of VNA Care was in attendance. She had honored the Woman’s Club in 2020 for its role in 1910 when it established, funded and supported one of the very first Visiting Nurse Agencies with donations, including a bicycle for the sole regional nurse to help her better get around and see patients. Today, the VNA is an established organization with far reaching impact. But back then, nursing care for people at home was unheard of, and early visiting nurses commonly made the difference between life and death, providing healing, medicine, sanitation, and comfort.
Christine Gauthier-Kelley, who led the research into the Woman’s Club’s unique and formative role in founding this region’s VNA said she was inspired by the VNA’s role in “the big heart of nursing.” Gauthier-Kelly coordinated with the Manchester Historical Museum to assemble a definitive, permanent museum archive of photographs, letters and records of the time.
The newly installed ornamental tree is the second honorary tree from the Woman’s Club to the town. In the 1960s the club donated the Friendship Tree, which has become a massive centerpiece to the Town Common that is lit every December for the holidays.
Woman’s Club President Karen Webber said a brass plaque will be placed to highlight Manchester’s gratitude to the VNA for the work they do in service to us all and has so selflessly continues.
Sue Parker, Manchester Historical Museum president, agreed.
“When it began, the VNA represented what was cutting edge care,” she said. “Today it’s a best practice. We are proud to host this living history.”
The Manchester Woman’s Club is one of the oldest continuing Woman’s Clubs in North America, with traditions of community service, kindness and assistance to others in need.