This past year, Cynthia Burbank Godfrey, who helped create the Alison Gill Lodge, a therapeutic group home for girls, passed away. In honor of her hard work and dedication, her loving husband of 54 years, Loren, and her many friends and family members are keeping her legacy alive through a fund at The Village. A loving and caring woman, Cynthia had begun volunteering at the Shelter for Women’s Gray Lodge in Hartford at the invitation of her close friend, Alison Gill.
The shelter provided care, support and education for teen girls up to age 16. But, the two friends began to feel that there should be a place for the girls to go after that. “They thought they needed a place to mature,” said Loren, so that “they could ease back into society.”
So, Alison, with the support of Cynthia and others, created a second facility in Manchester in 1987. It was named in honor of Alison, who died in 1993 at age 53. The program became part of The Village in 2010, when the Shelter for Women merged with The Village.
Today, Alison Gill Lodge is a therapeutic group home for girls 14-21 who are dealing with emotional and behavioral challenges including anxiety, sexual, physical or emotional abuse, and family problems. It helps young women – many who have previously been hospitalized or received residential treatment – adjust to a community-based, home-like setting before transitioning to a family, group home or supervised apartment. The program accommodates up to six residents and the average length of stay is one year. While at Alison Gill Lodge, the residents attend public or therapeutic schools in the area.
The Village’s skilled staff provides intensive treatment including weekly individual, group, family and recreation therapy. The young women also receive help with maintaining good health and nutrition, managing crises, and building their independent living skills. They also participate in volunteer, enrichment and social activities in the community.
As Alison did with Cynthia, Cynthia invited her friends to join her in supporting both programs – Gray Lodge and Alison Gill Lodge. She co-chaired an advisory council, leading an active group of women who organized very successful special events. The Girl Within Luncheon, which continues today, was started by Cynthia, her good friend Marian Hewett and a committee of five women.
When Cynthia died on June 25th, Loren and their children talked about how they might honor Cynthia. In addition to her family, Cynthia had many interests and passions during her life, including being a coach for 19 years at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, volunteering at Hill- Stead Museum’s annual May Market, and serving as president of the Farmington Garden Club.
“She was so involved with the Alison Gill Lodge and she was so proud of the kids who have really been helped,” that her friends and family decided to create an endowed fund in her memory. The Cynthia B. Godfrey Memorial Fund will support The Village’s programs for young women. “Having four children of our own, we were both – but Cynthia especially – very sensitive to the needs of teenage kids,” Loren said. “She was always so grateful when others wanted to support the shelter.”
We are so grateful for the incredible time and effort of volunteers like Cynthia, Alison and Marian – and many others, who made the Alison Gill Lodge possible. And to Mr. Loren Godfrey for helping to honor their legacy and to support The Village’s life-saving work to help young women overcome significant challenges to lead successful lives.
This story was originally featured in our 2015 annual report.