Mission

To meet the material, educational, and emotional needs of children in the Washington, D.C area.

History

1866Mary Virginia Merrick was born on November 2 in Washington, DC in her maternal grandmother's home at 615 E street, Northwest. She was the second oldest of seven children of Richard Merrick, a prominent Catholic lawyer, and Nannie (McGuire) Merrick, whose father, an art connoisseur who was influential in establishing the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, DC.
1874Mary and her sister prayed for the conversion of their mother to Catholicism and for a baby brother, both prayers are answered.
1877At the age of 11 Mary experienced a moment of realization (a conversion experience) when she gave herself to God in a wheat field.
1878Mary recieved her First Holy Communion and pledged to "serve Our Lord in the poor."
1880At the age of 14 Mary took a fall from her playhouse at "Linwood", the family summer home in Ellicott City, MD. This began her life of physical suffering. 
1883At the age of 17 Mary was diagnosed with Potts disease. This disease slowly paralyzed her legs and some areas of her spine.
1884Both of Mary's parents die in quick succession of each other. In spite of her physical handicaps and her grief, Mary assumed responsibility for the family. It was at this time that Mary also began enlisting the help of her family and friends to serve the poor and serious thoughts of Mary Virginia's vision for her Christ Child Society continue to develop at her family home at 1306 F Street Northwest with the help of her friend Leonide Delarue. Mary Virginia Merrick and friends make and deliver the first Christmas layette and answer children's letters to the Christ Child with gifts marked "from the Christ Child."
1885First year of the Society's informal existence. A group of "Friendly Visitors" was set up to visit the homes of the poor to determine their needs.
1886The Merrick home, in the city of Washington, DC becomes the early headquarters of the Christ Child Society.
1887The Society was officially established in Washington DC, where Mary remained the president of the Chapter for the rest of her life.
1890The first annual report of the Christ Child Society is published.
1891Fresh Air Work began whereby underprivileged children were provided 2-week summer stays in rented country cottages.
1893A "Volunteer Visitors" group was formed to go out into the community to investigate conditions in homes where layettes and clothes were distributed to determine and tend to their additional needs.
1898The Christ Child Society Settlement House opened at 1101 H St., NW.
1899Society organized on a formal basis with committee on organization formed to set up Society on a business footing.
1900Motto "Laborare Est Orare" ("To Work is to Pray") was adopted
1901Society formally adopts a constitution and bylaws
1903Society incorporated in the District of Columbia.The charter stated that the "object of the society was to improve by useful instruction and charitable relief the condition of the poor children" 
1904The first "Branch" of the Christ Child Society was founded outside of the Washington, DC area in Baltimore, Maryland.
1905Italian Settlement started near Union Station at request of Cardinal Gibbons.
1906A Christ Child Auxiliary was established at St. Augustine's Parish to serve the needs of the "colored" Catholic community in the city.
1907Boys Club organized at the Italian Center
1908Seven branches of the Christ Child Society operating in other cities
 Permanent Fresh Air Camp established in Silver Spring, MD
1909

Mary wrote a children's book, The Life of Christ for Children  

Libraries were established in Jails, Tuberculosis Hospitals and a reform school in the city.

1910Branches of the society were established in Davenport Iowa, Indianapolis Indiana, and Akron Ohio.
1914Purchase of Fresh Air Camp property
1915Mary Merrick received the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame University
1916National Christ Child Society established with Mary Merrick as president. She remained president of Washington DC Chapter and the National Christ Child Society until 1948.
1920Building for first permanent headquarters purchased at 324 Indiana Ave, NW.
1922Silver Spring property was sold and property on Norbeck Road in Montgomery County purchased.
 Regular rummage sales were organized.
1923The Voice of the Christ Child, a quarterly newsletter first published
1926Fresh Air Camp was converted into Convalescent Home for 6-12 year olds.
1932New headquarters and settlement house built at 608 Massachusetts, Ave., NE.
 Men's committee formed to direct the work with boys and the Christ Child Boys Club was renamed the Merrick Boys Club
 Mary Virginia Merrick was the first woman to receive the Cosmopolitan Club Medal
1933Christ Child Opportunity Shop purchased at 1427 Wisconsin Ave in Georgetown.
1935Gymnasium added to the Settlement house, dedicated to the "service of youth."
1937Summer camp for girls opened near Annapolis
 Mary Merrick awarded Theta Phi Alpha Medal as outstanding Catholic Woman of the Year by the National Catholic Council of Catholic Women
 Mary Merrick presented with Proc Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal
1938Mens' Committee of the Merrick Boys Camp formed
1941Merrick Girls' Camp Committee organized to raise funds for girls' camp
1948Mary Merrick resigns as president of National Christ Child Society. Mrs. Alice Hopkins became the national president.
1949Mary Merrick received honorary degree from Georgetown University
1951Annapolis camp property was sold and the Girls' Camp was established in Calvert County on the Patuxent River on land provided by the Archdiocese of Washington.
 Norbeck Road property was sold
 New building for Convalescent Home was erected on Edson Lane in Rockville. Cardinal O'Boyle dedicated new building.
1953Convalescent Home renamed Convalescent Hospital. Two programs were administered: one for convalescent children and a second for emotionally disturbed children.
1955January 10, Mary Merrick died at 88 years of age.
1956Second Floor of Opportunity Shop established as antique and consignment store.
1959Junior Guilds started with establishment of the Mary Virginia Merrick subchapter. Others followed.
1960Convalescent care was phased out and the program was changed to 24 hour care of emotionally disturbed children. Name was changed to Christ Child Institute for Emotionally Disturbed Children.
1961Society was reorganized into separate departments: Institute, Settlement House, Camp and Opportunity Shop.
1963Settlement House and Camp committees combined at Settlement House.
1974Settlement House was closed because of declining child population in neighborhood.
1977Settlement House was sold
1980The Institute for Emotionally Disturbed Children was closed.
1982The School Counseling Program was developed and administered from the Institute Property.
1985The Volunteer "Cum Laude" award was established
1986First Annual Founder's Day was established
1988Institute Property sold. Investment fund established to support Society programs.
1998Camp program discontinued due to change in needs of urban children and lack of availability of trained counselors.
1999Camp scholarship program established
2002Downstairs of Opportunity Shop renovated and entire store dedicated to antiques and consignments.
2003Mary Virginia Merrick declared "A Servant of God." The Cause of Canonization for Mary Virginia Merrick begins in earnest.
2004
Camp property sold. $1million of proceeds provided to Victory Youth Centers to build a recreation center at St. Thomas More in SE DC to be called the Merrick Center
 2008     
 Mary Virginia Merrick Center opens.
 2010    
 Family Support Program begins at the Merrick Center

CCS Offices 5101 Wisconsin Ave. NW Suite 102 Washington, DC 20016 Phone: 202-966-9250 info@christchilddc.org | The Opportunity Shop 1427 Wisconsin Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20007 202-333-6635 opshop@christchilddc.org | The Merrick Center4275 4th Street, SE Washington, DC 20032 aanglade@christchilddc.org

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