In spring 1952, a group of Andover women formed a charitable organization which came to be known as “The Andona Society” with the spirit of giving to varied causes in greater Andover. These charter members – Mrs. David Burns, Mrs. Suzanne Wilson, Mrs. Guy B. Howe, Jr., Mrs. Warren Lewis and Mrs. L. Gleynn Yeaton, Jr. founded “Andona” with a name chosen to reflect “Andover” with the latin verb “to give”.
One of the group’s first charitable donations was to the Andover Home for Aged People. Andona members visited patients, remembered them with cards and on birthdays and purchased equipment for the Home. Early fund raisers included dances, fashion shows, bake sales and plays. By 1956, Andona established a calendar of fundraising events – a Fall Dance, Mid-Winter event, afternoon Bridge in the Spring and the organization favorite – “ClownTown”.
During the 1960’s, we grew from our early size of five members to over 60 women and focused on assisting the Bon Secours Hospital pediatric ward along with making equipment donations to establish the town’s Recreation Park. From there, Andona began designating funds for scholarships and gave monies for the Greater Lawrence YMCA. In 1966, Andona piloted a Preschool Vision Screening to detect symptoms of amblyopia.
In the 1970’s we continued to grow and expand our “giving” to a broader range of community needs. Andona’s efforts ranged from supporting the Greater Lawrence Joint Hospital Building Fund and with launching a major fund raising to open the well recognized Andover / North Andover Family YMCA. Funding for local school programs, park equipment and the Andover Memorial Library for the Children’s Room were a few of our projects. By 1976, our well received vision screening program was expanded to include all town preschoolers.
In the 1980’s, Andona expanded its scholarship and summer camp programs and supported families by offering Museum Passes in concert with the Library along with our annual fundraising events. A particular accomplishment in the 1980’s was Andona’s large donations in support of forming the S.A.D.D (Students Against Drunk Driving) program at Andover High School to educate students about the dangers of alcohol abuse. We continued to donate funds to programs like Department for Community Service (DCS), to purchase preschool equipment, to Easter Seals for Swimming for Handicapped Children and Library Pass Programs. By the mid 80’s, the Amblyopia screening program was screening over 300 children with the aid of 84 volunteers. In 1988, Andona was incorporated, following 37 years of events and community service.
The 1990’s continued with very successful annual Balls, ClownTown’s, Spring Gala’s, Sidewalk Bazaar, Babysitting Courses and participation in the Fireman’s Santa Parade – kept Andona volunteers busy. Donations to athletic programs in the schools, refurbishing park equipment and sponsoring programs like Windrush Farm Disabled Riding, Easter Seals and the Samaritans have become increasingly important to those organizations. Because of our longstanding charitable efforts on behalf of the Town, the Andover Historical Society graciously agreed to preserve our history in its facility. We identified some unusual needs in the 1990’s and responded in 1993 by introducing an evening event for middle school children (our now ever popular “Spring Fling”), then in 1994 Safety Saturday, a one-day fair designed to introduce various safety concepts to children from preschool to middle school began and continued for many years. Some other highlights establishment of a Scholarship Trust, sponsoring “Shakespeare in the Park” like cultural events and the formation of a Public Business Committee to streamline our relations with local businesses mark the close of this decade.
Since 2000, Andona has continued its drive towards supporting Andover Youth through increasing membership and the continued dedication of members. Our fundraising, participation in local events like “Know Your Town”, offering an expanded Babysitting Program and donations to several youth athletic, social and cultural programs continue. Andona has made a substantial pledge towards construction of the new Andover Youth Center which demonstrates Andona is an active partner in the community. With good fortune, dedicated members and wonderful partnership with local businesses, schools and organizations, Andona is embarking on another exciting decade.