Children's Friend and Family Services

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This organization started in 1837 as The Seamen's Widow and Orphan Association. The original purpose of the organization was to give relief to widows and orphans of seamen. In the first year of its organization there were sixty-six family assisted. There were sometimes 125 or more names on their list of beneficiaries. They ran an orphanage for youth whose families were stricken by poverty, or illness or death. The agency was committed to raising strong youth, able to care for themselves and their families. Later, its name changed, to the Salem Seamen's Orphan and Children's Friend Society.

In the early 20th century, the orphanage was closed. The agency, then named the Children's Friends and Family Service Society, became an adoption agency and a "friendly home visitor” agency, working to strengthen families.

Over the last 20 years, the agency Children's Friend and Family Services has changed again in response to the needs of youth and families, developing counseling, mentoring, day care and juvenile court services, and becoming a county-wide organization, with offices in Lynn, Salem, Gloucester, Amesbury, and Lawrence. Its programs now serve over 5,000 youth and family members yearly.

In 2017, Children's Friend merged with JRI (Justice Resource Institute). JRI, while younger (founded in 1972), has a broad-based mission of social justice, sharing a deep commitment to serving children and families in need of support.

See Also

  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Children's Friend and Family Services
  • "A legacy of compassion: begun 175 years ago to aid seamen's families, nonprofit carries on mission of caring for youths in need" Boston Globe, Dec. 6, 2012, p. N2