The Mary and Alexander Laughlin Children’s Center, or “Laughlin Children’s Center” as it is known today, was founded in 1956, as the successor to two children’s service organizations – – Sewickley Fresh Air Home and Child Counseling Center of Sewickley Valley.
From its founding in 1897 until its closure in 1952, the Sewickley Fresh Air Home provided summertime and eventually year-round care for as many as thirty to forty children at a time. Mrs. Alexander Laughlin was the home’s founder, president of its board of managers, and a driving force in the success of its program. When she died in 1953, leaving a sizable bequest to the recently closed home, the trustees and surviving board members sought another organization providing service to children to be recipient of the gift.
In early 1951, the Child Counseling Center of Sewickley Valley was organized to provide counseling services for individual children and their families and to conduct community awareness and education activities. There was significant community need for the agency’s services, but it lacked a long-term funding source. The two child service organizations had in common several active patrons and board members and, through those connections, it was arranged that the organizations would be merged into one, and the surviving organization would receive Mrs. Laughlin’s bequest.
In 1956, the Fresh Air Home’s original charter was amended to provide for its name to change to the “Mary and Alexander Laughlin Children’s Center.” LCC began providing services during that year, even before construction of its facility in Sewickley was completed. The Center’s earliest programs were described as “academic and emotional support for children who encounter problems in learning processes”, a description which still applies to our programs today.
An important part of Laughlin Children’s Center’s history and tradition is the original legacy from Mrs. Laughlin and the part it has played in the Center’s development. With the support of the bequest, the Center was able to charge nominal fees for services and to provide financial aid for those families who could not afford to pay even those fees, enabling families to receive needed services without regard to their ability to pay.
Through the years, with the support of generous individual and foundation donors, Laughlin Children’s Center has been able to build that base of financial security into a sustaining endowment, which we rely on today to be able to set fees at reasonable levels and provide a generous, responsible financial aid program for families requiring help.
The Center Today
Today’s array of services include academic evaluation and instruction (one-on-one and small group) for children from preschool through high school; psychological testing and therapy (individual and family); speech-language screenings and evaluations, as well as therapy; and the nationally-accredited Village Preschool.
Laughlin Children’s Center is proud of our continuing relationship with the Laughlin family. Alexander M. Laughlin, Mary and Alexander Laughlin’s grandson, has served as a board member since 1957, and actively supports our work in many ways. His son, David W. Laughlin, is continuing the family tradition of service and support as a board member, as did his elder son, Alexander M. Laughlin, Jr., until his untimely death in 2016.