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In 1853, six-year old Julia Bourne and her family left Switzerland to begin a new life in America. Their journey was long and arduous. Julia’s father died crossing the Atlantic, and her widowed mother took the wrong ferry from New York Harbor, landing in Yonkers instead of Boston. The Dyckmans opened their door to the family, providing the help they needed to regain strength and heal. When Julia’s mother and siblings moved on to Boston, the childless couple invited young Julia to stay. She became part of the Dyckman family, and she thrived. In 1869, Julia married the bold and ambitious son of a Methodist minister. They raised eight children together, while his shrewd investments in real estate and timber made John Andrus one of the ten richest men in the country.

When Julia died seventy-five years later, John Andrus fulfilled a promise he made to her. He transformed Julia’s childhood home on the quiet slopes of the Dyckman family farm into a sanctuary for orphaned children. Supported entirely by the family’s Surdna Foundation, The Andrus Children’s Home transformed lives for over sixty years, giving orphaned children the safety and opportunity Julia once found with the Dyckmans.

Grounded in the values and vision of John Andrus, the ANDRUS board actively pursued and supported the development of new ideas and approaches to helping children in need. An ANDRUS-sponsored study of foster children in the 1970s inspired the launch of the Orchard School, which combines residential care, academics, and clinical services for children with special needs. Over the next two decades, growing understanding about mental health issues in children shifted the focus at ANDRUS to those diagnosed with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED).

As our knowledge and commitment grew, so did our reach. ANDRUS joined with like-minded organizations to open new doors for children and families to mental health clinics, childcare services, and community-based programs across Westchester County. To fund its continuing expansion, ANDRUS grew its base of support beyond the Surdna Foundation, winning grants and attracting generous donations from institutions and individuals who saw the impact ANDRUS was making. We hit a turning point when Dr. Sandra Bloom brought her Sanctuary Model to ANDRUS. This brilliant framework helped us better understand our clients and how trauma influences behavior for both individuals and organizations. We were so empowered by the Sanctuary Model that we partnered with Dr. Bloom to bring this transformative approach to other human service organizations through the Sanctuary Institute.

More than 85 years after John Andrus created his orphanage, ANDRUS now opens its doors to over 4000 children and families every year. Our mental health and community-based services reach families from across the New York metropolitan area and the Andrus Center for Learning and Innovation extends our reach to social welfare organizations from Albany to Australia. Little Julia’s story of strength and resilience continues to inspire the leadership, faculty and staff at ANDRUS to develop and deliver innovative programs that will give vulnerable children and families the stability, security, support and hope that opens the door to their limitless future.


Please enjoy this video created for the annual ANDRUS Gala featuring some of our history and how we have grown:


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