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Visiting the Christian Women's Benevolent Association

A column from State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal.

I recently learned a lot about an amazing group and the work its members have been doing right here in the St. Louis area for more than 109 years.

The Christian Women’s Benevolent Association (C.W.B.A.) has been tirelessly helping the area’s poor, homeless, orphaned, elderly and needy families to survive and thrive since 1899. Although it no longer have an orphanage and its Christian hospitals are now under new management, these women with core beliefs in the teaching of Jesus Christ started a valuable and uniquely American tradition of taking care of those who are need.

Since its humble beginnings, the C.W.B.A. has been providing exceptional care for men and women of all faiths, and this continues to this day. Society has certainly changed over the years – we’ve seen major advances in technology and medical breakthroughs – and the Christian Women’s Benevolent Association was right there helping people weather the storms of their lives. 

It’s important to recognize these types of organizations that help our communities. I urge you to take some time and learn more about the history of our area, because it is through learning about history that we can help build a brighter future.

Here is a synopsis of the organizations history, described by the Christian Care Home in Ferguson:

“In 1899, a group of concerned women led by Fannie Hamilton Shedd Ayars organized efforts to care for impoverished mothers and their babies. A home for children from newborn to age two and their mothers was established, the Mothers and Babies Home.

In 1903, this same group of women recognized the need for more extensive medical care of the mothers and babies and established Christian Hospital of St Louis. While the hospital was opened with the needs of mothers and child specifically in mind, the hospital served people of all ages. Always looking for ways to help people in need, in 1911 these women opened the Christian Old People’s Home.

Now with three facilities, in 1911 the women formalized their organization as the Christian Women’s Benevolent Association (C.W.B.A.). The organization provided consultation as well as financial and spiritual guidance to the Mothers and Babies Home, Christian Hospital of St Louis, and the Christian Old People’s Home.

The childrens’ mission of the C.W.B.A. changed in 1962 to provide resident care for the wards of the juvenile court system of Metropolitan St. Louis. The Mothers and Babies Home was converted to C.W.B.A. Youth Home. 

In 1975 a new facility for the Christian Old People’s Home was built at 800 Chambers Road in Ferguson, Missouri. That same decade Christian Hospital of St. Louis was sold. Some of the proceeds from that sale were used by the C.W.B.A. to expand the Christian Old People’s Home and to build new facilities for the Youth Home. This ministry was discontinued in the 1980’s.

As we entered our second century of caring for the poor and the sick, C.W.B.A. embarked on building a new state-of-the-art facility to house both the Christian Care Home and Harnett Christian Village residents. The facility is licensed and certified by the state of Missouri. Residents receive around-the-clock care from an expert staff of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants.”

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