Our History

A Legacy of Caring

Born in 1831 and residing in Wayland, Mass., Jonathan Maynard Parmenter and his brother, Henry, owned a successful cattle business. Mr. Parmenter was a hardworking man who lived a modest lifestyle. He was known to walk all the way to New Hampshire and back to Wayland to make sure every single one of his stock made it home safe and sound. With a gentle touch of his cane, he could steer a half-ton cow all the way back to his pasture. We feel that his spirit of care and compassion does indeed still guide this organization to this very day.

With the help of financial advisors, Mr. Parmenter amassed great wealth during his lifetime. When he died in 1921 at the age of 89, his original estate had grown to $1.275 million (over $18 million in today’s dollars). As an exceptionally successful small businessman, Jonathan Parmenter knew all about contracts. But he also understood that commercial contracts are only a small part of what makes a prosperous community; there are social contracts --investments that members of a community make in each other, and in future generations. So, Jonathan Parmenter determined that his estate should go to enhance and sustain the community he knew and loved. He requested that his wealth be given to charities, specifically ear marking $220,000 to establish a hospital in Wayland. In 1949, The Parmenter Health Center, Inc. was officially incorporated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It was not until 1952, that the trustees of Parmenter’s estate deemed that building a hospital would prove too costly. Instead, they created medical and dental clinics to meet the greatest needs of residents.

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In 1954, The Parmenter Health Center opened at 266 Cochituate Road housing the Wayland Board of Health, a dental clinic, and a children’s medical clinic. In 1957, the Public Health Nursing Service opened at the Parmenter Health Center as the first combined agency to carry out all public nursing needs in Wayland and to train new public nurses. At that time, The Parmenter Health Center included various medical clinics including polio, diabetes, glaucoma, Tuberculosis, child wellness, dental, vision, hearing; and a speech therapy nursery school.

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The Legacy is Strengthened

In 1991, the Parmenter Health Center added the Wayland Hospice to provide at-home hospice care to its list of services. In 1992, The Parmenter Health Center added children’s bereavement programs to assist its hospice care services. In 1994, Parmenter merged with Sudbury Visiting Nurses Association to create the Parmenter VNA, Inc. and provided visiting nurse care to Wayland and Sudbury. The hospice and visiting nurse services began to spread to neighboring towns within MetroWest. In 1995, HEARTplay℠ was created as a therapeutic group program that uses expressive arts to help heal the hearts of bereaved children.

In 2000, Parmenter VNA added the Miriam Boyd Parlin Hospice Residence at Traditions of Wayland and an adult day care center. In 2002, the Dora Efthim Healing Garden was opened at the Miriam Boyd Parlin Hospice Residence. With the local success and reputation of HEARTplay℠, in 2012 the Moyer Foundation chose Parmenter VNA to execute their Camp Erin model in Boston. Camp Erin® Boston had its first camp in 2013.

Over the years, Parmenter VNA experienced continued generosity of our supporters. In 2012 the organization received its most generous contribution, $5.6 million, from Wellesley, Mass. resident Joan S. Batchelder, a pioneer in the 1960s bond trading market. After her 23-year battle with breast cancer, she passed away, but not before she turned to Parmenter hospice for her end of life care. At this time, Parmenter VNA created a development arm, The Parmenter Foundation, to organize donors to fund new programs, support Parmenter VNA programs, and grow the original endowment left by Jonathan Parmenter.

In 2015, the Parmenter VNA merged its clinical programs (such as visiting nurse home care, hospice, Camp Erin® Boston, HEARTplay℠) with Mount Auburn Hospital to create CareGroup Parmenter Home Care & Hospice. Under the management of Mount Auburn Hospital, now part of the Beth Israel Lahey Health, these clinical programs have been able to expand and thrive.

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The Legacy Continues

Today, The Parmenter Foundation, an independent, charitable foundation, provides hope and support for our community members who are grieving or in need of compassionate end-of-life care. We provide funding for nonprofit organizations that deliver high quality, innovative bereavement programs and palliative care, and we offer educational and inspirational resources that help our neighbors navigate through the challenging grief process. The Parmenter Foundation is committed to helping MetroWest families build resiliency and facilitating their journeys toward healing.