History of Lynndale
Learn how a passion for advocating for individuals with ongoing needs created an organization that's been a community staple for over 65 years. There have been many key factors and key people in the story of Lynndale. Gloria M. Ireland, Executive Director of 50 years, led Lynndale with her dedication, diligent leadership, and enduring commitment to the community. Without the strong faith of its founders, staff, board of directors, parents, and caring citizens, Lynndale's ambitious goals could never have been accomplished.
The Impossible Dream
In the summer of 1952, the "impossible dream" was born into the hearts of a small group of parents, whose children with developmental disabilities were not being served by any agency in the community. They planned a summer of simple recreational activities, and in the fall they opened the first Lynndale School in the old Boy's Club building, with a student body of twelve young people. The name "Lynndale" was chosen to honor two special individuals, Dale Evans and the daughter of Mr. G. V. Patterson, Jr. As the first president of Lynndale, Mr. Patterson worked tirelessly to help organize the school in an effort to obtain services for his young daughter, Lynn. Dale Evans, actress and writer, was one of the first people to awaken the public to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities through her beautiful book, Angel Unaware. The name Lynndale was born through a combination of these two names.
During its first years, Lynndale School occupied a succession of makeshift quarters. Finally, in 1962, the Richmond County Board of Education offered a group of World War II frame barracks on Lake Forest Drive. The program was housed there for 18 years and operated solely through private funding.
A New Home
In 1975 a crisis developed when the state fire marshal condemned the old wooden buildings, stating that they were unsafe. A comprehensive building fund campaign was launched, again with faith and determination, and over the next five years, more than $800,000 was raised. The City of Augusta generously deeded a large tract of land on Eisenhower Drive, and groundbreaking ceremonies for the new center were held on February 13, 1980. In August 1980, Lynndale staff and participants officially moved from Lake Forest Drive to their modern new facility at 1490 Eisenhower Drive.
A Shift in Focus
An expanded staff, now numbering more than 50, offered training in self-care and adult living skills designed to prepare persons with developmental disabilities for fuller lives and increased independence. Thanks in part to lobbying by Lynndale, Public Law 94-142 (the Education of the Handicapped Law) was adopted by the Georgia Legislature in 1975. This act guaranteed that all school-aged children have the right to an education, regardless of their disabilities. As a result of this law, school-aged children who were served by training centers such as Lynndale were mainstreamed gradually into the public school system. Sixty-five children made the transition from Lynndale into the public school system. These children became enrolled in state-mandated special education classes that served children from infancy to age 21. This change enabled Lynndale to move toward the services that it offers today, serving adults who, before the law was passed, had no formal training.
Establishment of the Supported Employment Program in 1990 allowed many participants to obtain job placements in the community. This important step prompted Lynndale School and Training Center to change its name to one more representative of the services provided. The newly adopted name was Lynndale, Inc., A Community Support Service.
In addition to providing training and employment opportunities for adult participants, the Lynndale Board of Directors is committed to the challenging task of making quality housing available for persons with disabilities. Over the past twenty years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development approved funding for two group homes, which offer community living in attractive surroundings for 12 people with developmental disabilities. The latest and most exciting project is Lynndale West Apartments. A HUD grant was applied for and approved. Groundbreaking for the 10-unit apartment complex on Marks Church Road was held on September 30, 1997. Construction began shortly after — and on June 15, 1998, Lynndale hosted a dedication ceremony for the beautiful new complex.
Lynndale, Inc. has come a very long way from its humble beginnings in the old Boy's Club building. The first small class has grown to approximately 200 individuals, who today receive a variety of training, services, employment, and residential options — all uniquely fashioned to meet each person's special needs.