History

Caring for Children Since 1944

The world was at war when what was then St. Mary’s Infant Home opened on Dec. 8, 1944, in a renovated century-old building to care for abandoned and orphaned children.

St. Mary’s has been growing and changing ever since, while continuing to cherish each young person who comes here as an individual to be respected, listened to and loved.

Nuns from the Roman Catholic religious order the Daughters of Wisdom began caring for the children in 1946 and managed the Home for many years. Sister Mary June Morin, the last Daughter of Wisdom at St. Mary’s, retired in 2011 after 51 years of service but still visited regularly to volunteer and see the children, until she passed away in 2014.

In the 1950s, St. Mary’s began caring for children with disabilities. The next decade, St. Mary’s built and moved into a 50-bed nursing facility specializing in residential care for children with more severe intellectual disabilities at a time when there weren’t many such places.

By the 1980s, the Home had become what it is today: a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that provides expert around-the-clock care for children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities.

In 2005, we opened our current building near Sentara Leigh Hospital. Since moving to the new Home, the children have spent 25 percent fewer days out at the hospital. The excellent care they receive here is key, and the bright and beautiful building with more space and the latest systems contributes to that care.

Through the years, the number of children and young adults that St. Mary’s cares for has grown, from a dozen to as many as 100. The age limit grew, too, from 6 years to 21. In 2013, after more than six decades of helping children, St. Mary’s began caring for adults over 21 as well with the opening of The Albero House.