Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau traces its beginnings to 1976 when concerned families, school representatives, churches, and several elected officials laid the groundwork for a permanent youth service program. Mr. W.E.S. Griswold, Chairman of the MacCurdy Salisbury Educational Foundation pledged start-up support from the Foundation. With funding secure, Dr. George Willauer initiated a public meeting at Old Lyme Town Hall which was attended by more than 50 supporters. Mr. Ted Etherington, Dr. Willis Umberger, the Pike Family, Mr. Charles Kiernan, Mrs. Barbara Romeo, Mr. Thomas McGarry, and others were responsible for establishing the organization of an official Youth Service Bureau.
As Town backing was imperative to the success of the project, ordinances creating the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau were passed at Town Meetings in both Lyme and Old Lyme. The Selectmen appointed the first Board of Directors, a building was offered to house the agency, and our first Director, Adele Pike, was hired. Town funding was matched by the State of Connecticut and on October 13, 1978 the doors at 59 Lyme Street officially opened. Under Ms. Pike’s able direction, a variety of programs were offered including a Job Bank, Driver and Bicycle Safety Programs, Crisis Intervention Services, a Host Home Network, and local trips and activities for youth. Ms. Pike established the Bureau’s close relationship to the school system, providing education and awareness programs directly in the schools.
Finding a home for the LYSB began with the ingenuity and generosity of Adele Pike and her family. The Pike’s found and renovated the house at 59 Lyme Street, gathering donated furniture and supplies. They were custodians of the house for the first few years of the Bureau’s operation, allowing the Board of Directors to devote all of their attention to the formation of a solid program. It was not unusual to find one of the Pikes there on a Saturday morning, repairing a fence, or raking leaves with neighborhood youth volunteers. In 1981, the Board voted unanimously to try and make the beautifully suitable property a permanent home. Its close proximity to the schools and welcoming architecture made it the perfect site.
The Etherington family led the community in a major effort to raise interest and funding in order to purchase the property for the LYSB. Mr. & Mrs. Etherington lost their daughter Mimi in a tragic accident in 1978 and established a memorial fund at LYSB in her name. The house at 59 Lyme Street is named after Mimi. A plaque in the house reads:
“This house is dedicated to Marion L. (Mimi) Etherington who died September 1, 1978 in an automobile accident when she was fifteen years old. If she had lived, she would have been a center of joy in this house. Her warmth, her humor and her good sense, so suddenly gone, will remain with us here.”
The Etheringtons channeled much of their grief for Mimi into love for other children. When they learned of the LYSB Board’s intention to purchase the building; they took the lead. As former President of Wesleyan University, Ted Etherington was able to offer vast experience and knowledge to help involve supporters and raise the money to purchase the home. With lead gifts from the Etheringtons and the Pikes, the “Buy Our Beautiful Building” campaign raised funds to purchase the building and establish an endowment.
THE ORIGINAL MISSION OF THE LYSB STILL HOLDS TRUE TODAY:
To assist young people to become capable, contributing members of society. The LYSB works closely with parents, schools, churches, police, and the community to enhance the total environment for youth. We subscribe to the philosophy that in order for youth to develop into responsible adults, they must:
- Find opportunities for involvement
- Develop basic life skills require for participation
- Recognize their own ability to choose and affect the outcome of their decisions.
Through the years, LYSB has become an integral part of the community serving as the principal youth-serving agency in Lyme and Old Lyme, and a rich variety of programs and services are offered to our youth and families. The communities of Lyme and Old Lyme have become deeply involved in supporting the young people through individual and organizational efforts. LYSB enjoys a strong, solid footing thanks to the hard work of our Board of Directors and the generous financial support of our community.
|CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
|Charles J. Kiernan||1978-1979|
|Rev. David Good||1979-1980|
|Cyndi Miller Aird||2017-2019|