About the New England Homes for the Deaf
154-160 Water Street
Danvers, MA 01923
New England Homes for the Deaf (NEHD), founded in 1901, is a life plan community that offers continuum of care to Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing seniors, including independent living, rest home, skilled nursing community, Deaf senior centers, short-term rehabilitation services, respite care services and hospice care.
The New England Homes for the Deaf mission is to provide long term healthcare, housing, recreational activities and social support for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing individuals in an accessible, barrier-free and culturally-sensitive environment with optimal communication and architectural resources.
The History Timeline
The story of NEHD has historically been based on the fundraising efforts of generations of those devoted to ensuring the perpetuation of the home’s mission. This holds true today as it did in 1901.
Rev. Dr. S. Stanley Searing (a friend of Rev. Thomas Gallaudet, son of Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who helped establish the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut) met with a group of men to discuss the need to establish a home to care for Deaf and Deafblind elders in New England.
NEDHM had become a Legal Corporation
By May, the group had become a legal corporation called New England Home for Deaf Mutes (NEHDM). By 1903, NEHDM had raised enough money to rent a house in Allston, Massachusetts and hired a matron to care for the first residents. By the summer of 1905, the home was filled to capacity with a waiting list and it was time to move.
The first Home had welcomed its residents
By 1903, NEHDM had raised enough money to rent a house in Allston, Massachusetts and hired a matron to care for the first residents. By the summer of 1905, the home was filled to capacity with a waiting list and it was time to move.
A Board of Trustees was established
Fundraising efforts allowed for the 1905 purchase of a new home in Everett, Massachusetts and a Board of Trustees was established.
A capital campaign was launched
By 1920, NEHDM had outgrown their home once again, and a capital campaign was launched in June of 1924 to secure a larger facility with enough land to allow for future growth. During this time, the NEHDM was privileged to have two very famous members, Helen Keller and her teacher/interpreter Ann Sullivan.
June 1, 1925
The name was changed to NEHD
On June 1, 1925, “Riverbank” in Danvers, Massachusetts was purchased from John Fredrick Hussey (a kind and generous philanthropist) and the name was changed to New England Home for the Deaf (NEHD). Keller and Sullivan spearheaded the negotiation of this purchase. After meeting the two, Hussey was so impressed with the home’s mission that he sold Riverbank and three acres of land for less than half the selling price.
Hussey and his family served as board members and benefactors of NEHD, donating land, funding, and establishing an endowment for the Home for several years.
“Salem Hall” was established
In 1926, the Salem Deaf Club was honored for its longstanding support of NEHD. The large stone barn attached to the home was converted to a meeting room and dedicated as “Salem Hall,” where many Deaf Community meetings and social events were held over the years. An addition was constructed in 1927 to accommodate more residents.
“Friends of the Home” (FOH) was established
During the 1960’s, a group of community based Deaf members spent a great deal of time visiting and conducting social events for the residents. Headed by Claire Samson, the “Friends of the Home” (FOH) was established in 1968.
Early 1970’s - 80's
NEHD qualified for Medicaid
In the early 1970’s, NEHD qualified for Medicaid support which helped with some of the home’s medical costs but did not cover the Home’s many other expenses. In 1981, Eddy Laird was hired as NEHD’s Director.
NEHD established five Deaf Senior Centers
The passage of the Older Americans Act in the 1980’s aided in the popularity of local Councils on Aging (COA) as a means of support for senior citizens. Deaf seniors, however, found COAs impossible to benefit from, due to a lack of communication access. With help from several area Agencies on Aging, in 1987, NEHD established five Deaf Senior Centers throughout Massachusetts: Boston, Danvers, Quincy, and Lawrence. In 2007, the Bay State Deaf Seniors of Western Mass joined the network.
The 24-unit Thompson House was opened
After working several years as Assistant Director, Judith Good replaced Laird as President/CEO in the early 1990’s. Around the same time, Dr. Richard E. Thompson became the first Deaf Chairman of NEHD’s Board of Trustees. Their first plan of business was to develop a plan to meet the need for independent living housing for members of the Deaf Community. Financed by HUD, in 1997, the 24-unit Thompson House was opened. It was the first independent living facility with specially designed visual and tactile safety and signaling systems for low income Deaf and Deafblind elders in New England. NEHD was honored in Washington, D.C. with the presentation of the National Organization on Disability Award by the National Organization on Disability, J.C. Penny and the American Association of Housing and Services for the Aged.
The new nursing/rest home was opened
As the residents of NEHD aged in place, it became clear that the home would not meet the regulations for skilled nursing services. The Board of Trustees once again sought assistance from the community to raise funds for a new building. Donors came forward to purchase rooms and equipment in honor/memory of their loved ones. In 2004, the new fully equipped and adapted nursing/rest home was expanded to 81 beds.