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Opening the Chesterwye Center

Dr. Harry Rhodes, retired Superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Schools, officiated at the groundbreaking in 1978 for a new day activities and support building on three acres of land donated by Grasonville businessman Thomas Ewing in memory of his mother Katie Cray Ewing.  


The Chesterwye Center Board of Directors organized a fundraiser to support the construction of a new building. The event included a dinner theater,  bull roasts, "I walked the Bay Bridge" T-Shirts, flea markets, a circus, and a Halloween Haunted House. The Chesterwye Center was a true community effort.  


The first dinner auction in 1978 honored the Ewing Family and began a tradition which has endured over 40 years.  The new Chesterwye Center opened in 1980 with 22 adult participants, some of whom lived in Chesterwye homes and others who enjoyed day programs at the center.

The History of the ChesterWye Center and Foundation

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy called for a reduction of persons confined to residential institutions “…and there to restore and revitalize their lives through better health programs and strengthened educational and rehabilitation services.” This resulted in deinstitutionalization and increased community services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.


In 1967 Bobby Ann Nash of Stevensville and volunteer parents founded “Guiding Hands” organization to provide services to children with disabilities. In 1968 the new organization was named ChesterWye by combining the names of the two major rivers in Queen Anne’s County, “Chester” and “Wye” for the water lifestyle which still defines the the Eastern Shore and local Queen Anne's County community. 


Shortly after her son “Chip” was born with Down Syndrome Bobby set out on a crusade. While attending a kindergarten meeting for parents, she stood up and announced that the county had very few programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities, nothing for adults, and she intended to do something about it. She pointed her finger at everyone in the meeting telling them she would need all of their help. There was no escape from what she felt was her mission to help those who were affected. It wasn’t just about “Chip” — though he was the driving force in her life.  Guiding Hands organized ball games, picnics, craft socials complete with transportation for disabled members of the community.

By 1969 Bobby's dream was realized and the ChesterWye Center Doors opened. The Center was established as a Nonprofit organization and the first board of directors was seated.  


The Chesterwye Center (1969) & Foundation (1982) have proudly sustained "Give With Confidence" Charity Navigator scores of 90% & 95% respectively since their inception. 

During the 1970's the ChesterWye care team tailored its programs to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as Queen Anne’s County Public Schools expanded its services to children with disabilities. During the 1970's there was a shortage of service for adults with disabilities which persists to this day throughout the United States.

Wheeler Baker, Bobby Anne, Chip and Stewart Nash

History of Chesterwye Center

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