Community Wellness: Health Programs at the Waverly Community House

“If the people of Waverly continue to pull together, as they have, toward the goal of health, happiness, and service—this community will become more and more as one upon a hill, which lets its rich blessing shine its light to others.” Paul Belin, 1928.

The early 20th century brought with it many advancements in terms of disease education and eradication. In just a short period of time, the country saw outbreaks of diseases such as Polio, Measles, the Spanish Influenza, and Tuberculosis. Vaccines and treatments were later created to combat these illnesses and increased educational measures were put in place by schools and organizations throughout the country. In addition to educational, recreational, and cultural initiatives, the Waverly Community House was created with a dedication to the health of the community. Today’s post will cover how the Comm serviced the public through various health initiatives most notable of which was the WCH Nurse.


In 1922, Frances Jermyn Belin began funding the Waverly Community House Nurse’s salary. The Comm Nurse maintained office hours in the building, operating daily from 8:00 am-5:00 pm. The nurse’s duties were made official by the WCH Trustees in 1925 and included providing home health care to those in need, delivering monthly health lectures, and assisting at the local Community Health Clinic. At the 1922 Annual Meeting, Helen Fish discusses the Community House Nurse as follows: “Through the generosity of Mrs. F. Lammot Belin, Waverly is provided with a Community Nurse. Her services are free to the community and patrons of the Waverly Community House.” The first WCH Nurse Hayden 2Nurse to service the community was Lillian Hayden, who held the position through 1925. Nurse Hayden made over one-thousand house calls per year, assisted with the Tuberculosis Clinic along with local physician, Doctor Mackey, and serviced many school children and residents during her time at the Comm. She also provided free physical examinations to children, along with health advice throughout her time at the Comm. Nurse Hayden left her position in 1925 and was replaced by Mildred Jenkins who served as the Comm Nurse for another decade. After Nurse Jenkins left her position as nurse in 1935, the Waverly Community House entered into a partnership with the Scranton Visiting Nurse Association to fulfill nursing duties within the organization. This partnership was extremely beneficial to the Comm and offered distinct advantages to the community. For instance, at weekly meetings of the Nurse Association, Waverly Community House healthcare professionals were able to stay updated on recent public health developments, they also received the benefit of closer supervision in their health reporting.

There were many notable aspects of the Waverly Community House Nurse position throughout its years at the Comm. In 1923, Nurse Hayden began administering the Schick Test, a test developed by Bela Schick to determine whether or not you had developed immunity to the bacterial infection Diphtheria. In 1928, the Comm held a May Day Clinic, which was being observed in many locations throughout the United States. This clinic administered free medical exams to all preschool children in the area during a three-day period. In 1929, a Well Baby Clinic was established at the Comm with an enrollment of 26. The clinic was held bi-weekly and focused on educating new mothers on many aspects of childcare and health. In 1934, a Lunch Clinic was established which emphasized healthy eating habits and provided lunch to children in the area. An arrangement with area dentists was made in 1935 which allowed the Comm to provide dental care to children, relieving the school’s Dental Program. By including these offerings, in conjunction with Waverly Community House’s Nurse position all served to keep the community healthy and cared for throughout the 20th century.

During the World War II Era, the Waverly Community House Nurse continued to service the community with the primary focus of health education through ramped up efforts and clinic creation. In 1941, a report by nurse Lillian Held states “As health is vital to a strong nation, good health is vital to all. My part in this great defense program is to be concerned with the health of every person in this community. It means to me the education on the maintenance of good health by proper nutrition, prevention of disease and illness, and care for those that are ill.” In 1940, the Waverly Community House Nurse position expanded to operate at local schools in addition to the Comm, and eventually, by 1941 the Comm no longer had a full time nurse. However, they did have a visiting nurse who would make visits to the Comm to administer care, hold classes, and make visits. Throughout the remainder of the 1940’s, there continued to be a Well Baby Clinic, First Aid Classes, Toxoid Clinics, Nutrition Classes, and Federal Health Programs at the Comm through the cooperation of the visiting nurse. As more schools began providing the assistance of full-time school nurses in the 1950’s, the Comm’s visiting nurse no longer operated out of the building however, many health classes still remained.

Health and wellness has always been a priority of the Waverly Community House and its service to the community. Current programs that reflect these values include the Comm Kids Healthy Eating Initiative, the Comm Camp Community Garden, the Waverly Community House Health and Wellness Fair, and the Waverly Waddle, among others. You can find the more updated information on these programs, as well as current CDC Guidelines on our website at waverlycomm.org.