Lydia Chichester du Pont founded the Children’s Beach House (CBH) in the early 1930s, as a place where she could take children with special needs to benefit from the same healing qualities that she had derived from the coastal environment.
In 1936, she began the formal process of incorporating a foundation and recruiting its board of trustees.
“The nature of the business which the corporation is established to conduct and carry on is to provide means for the care, maintenance and creation, within or without the State of Delaware, of crippled, sick or poor children; to establish, maintain and carry on homes or camps for the care of such children; to furnish medical advice or assistance, especially in orthopedic cases, and to provide for the maintenance of such children in other institutions when necessary.”
Children’s Beach House Certificate of Corporation
Signed by Lydia Chichester du Pont
June 25, 1937
While initiating a program unique in the State of Delaware, Miss Lydia reserved time to complete an annual task that was important to her. She called a trusted friend and early board member at the start of each summer with the invitation, “Mr. Joe, it’s time to plant the geraniums.” Bank president Joe Marshall of Lewes joined Miss Lydia in planting the flowers whose splashy red blossoms welcomed guests and lifted the spirits of passers-by. Their growth throughout the summer paralleled the children’s progress and inspired perseverance.
In the early years, CBH identified the most pressing needs of children and directed resources toward those suffering from the effects of malnutrition, polio, rheumatic fever, autism, and cerebral palsy. However, with the passage of time, new risk factors emerged. Time and again, CBH reassessed the contemporary scene and redeployed its energy toward new directions and innovative programs.
In retrospect, the geraniums, still planted every year in honor of Miss Lydia, symbolize CBH’s determination to address the changing needs of children, while keeping in view its overall mission.
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