|Gladys Allen Brigham
We've changed our name Gladys Allen Brigham's life
New name - same quality programs
Girls Incorporated of the Berkshires was renamed the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, Inc. at a dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 16, 2005, honoring the memory of a woman who epitomized community service in Berkshire County for much of the 20th century. Girls Incorporated of the Berkshires will remain a program department within the new organization.
Between the 1920s and 1980s, Gladys Allen Brigham served as a board member and leader of the boards of several local non-profit organizations, before and after serving two decades as executive director of United Way's predecessor, United Community Services, Inc. At the time of her UCS appointment in 1948, she was one of only five women nationally to direct a United Way-type operation.
"We wanted to name the organization after Gladys because of her humanitarian legacy,” said Carol Bradwell, Executive Director of the Brigham Center. “She worked tirelessly to support a wide range of community service organizations that strengthened the health and welfare of Berkshire County. We feel that our organization mirrors the range and depth of her values, and that dedicating the agency to her memory will emphasize the diversity and strength of the programs we offer.”
Earlier this year, Bradwell proposed the dedication plan to Brigham's two sons, H. Day Jr. and Peter, who have worked closely together on this project. Day Brigham responded with a gift of $500,000, the largest single donation in the organization's history. Gladys Allen Brigham had long supported the agency, and the building's infant, toddler and preschool center has carried her name since 1979. The childcare program grew out of a project by the local Junior League, of which Gladys Brigham was a founding member and president.
Day Brigham observed that being 13 years apart, he and his brother together had a longtime, front-row view of their mother's remarkable career in improving the health and welfare of others. Our admiration for Mother led Peter to follow a career in public service and, while I pursued a career in law and business, we shared our pride and love for what she was doing, Day Brigham said. I am personally very grateful for the opportunity to help continue the legacy of good works of what is now the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center.
Bradwell noted that the Brigham Center, located at 165 East Street, houses six separate and unique programs: ABC School Age Enrichment, Aquatics, Camps Stevenson-Witawentin, Early Childhood Education, Girls Incorporated of the Berkshires, and Youth Empowerment Services (YES). The Brigham Center's mission is to empower children and youth, with a special emphasis on girls, to become responsible, confident and personally fulfilled individuals.
“Our new name and mission will be more inclusive of the many programs for both genders that we provide,” Bradwell said, “but we remain committed to girls and will keep our Girls Incorporated program, which will continue to be an affiliate of the national Girls Inc. organization. We will continue to provide the same high-quality programs targeted specifically to the unique needs of Berkshire County girls within the Girls Incorporated of the Berkshires program department.”
Speakers at the dedication ceremony included Ellen Ruberto, wife of Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto, who read a proclamation from the mayor's office declaring June 16 Gladys Allen Brigham Day in Pittsfield; and Dan Dillon, president and chief professional officer of Berkshire United Way, who offered personal memories of the woman who helped lay the foundation for today's Berkshire United Way. Brigham Center board member John O'Brien served as master of ceremonies.
The Brigham Center has more than 4,000 members. Through its family counseling and childcare programs, teen pregnancy prevention, life skills programs for adolescent girls and boys, swim programs for senior citizens, after school academic and enrichment services, summer day camp for boys and girls, developing arts program and other social services for the entire community, the organization serves more than 12,000 individuals annually.
The organization completed major facility renovations in June 2004, made possible by a $3.3 million capital campaign. The renovations included installation of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, separate men's and women's changing areas for the aquatics program, and new floors, walls, ceilings and cabinetry in all of the program rooms.
-Press release to the Berkshire Eagle
Gladys Allen Brigham, 1899-1997
With her tireless efforts to nurture, enrich and unify a wide range of community organizations, Gladys Allen Brigham epitomized community service in Berkshire County. We are proud to dedicate the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center in honor of her countless contributions to the health and welfare of this community.
While raising two boys and two stepdaughters, Mrs. Brigham joined and held leadership positions on the volunteer boards of the Visiting Nurse Association, Girls' League, House of Mercy (predecessor of Berkshire Medical Center), and Council of Social Agencies. She became the first president of the Junior League of Pittsfield and was recognized in 1949 as one of 34 outstanding League members nationwide.
Professionally, Mrs. Brigham served the community for 18 years as Executive Director of United Way's predecessor organization, United Community Services, Inc. At the time of her appointment in 1948 she was one of only five women nationally to direct a United Way - type operation. During her tenure, UCS-supported agencies grew from 17 to 26 and annual contributions nearly tripled. In 1965, City Savings Bank named her the first female Massachusetts savings bank incorporator.
After retiring in 1966, Mrs. Brigham returned to many of the boards she had left two decades earlier to lead UCS. When Pittsfield General Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital merged in 1967 to form Berkshire Medical Center, she served as the first president of the newly combined auxiliary. In 1973, she played a major role in a successful Berkshire County Historical Society fundraising effort that enabled the organization to purchase Arrowhead, creating a Herman Melville museum and Society headquarters. She served as program chairman for the organization through much of the 1970s.
Mrs. Brigham was active in the First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Pittsfield for 75 years. A 1921 Mount Holyoke College graduate, she received one of 29 special Centennial Awards given to distinguished alumnae on the college alumnae association's 100th anniversary in 1972.