Hamilton Center observes 50th anniversary

Local News

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — In 2021, Hamilton Center, Inc. will commemorate its 50th anniversary. Founded in 1971, originally as Katherine Hamilton Mental Health Center, the organization has served communities and individuals across west central Indiana with community-focused behavioral health services.

“Hamilton Center, with the help of committed community partners, has advanced behavioral health and addiction treatment,” said Melvin L Burks, CEO of Hamilton Center, Inc. “Our longstanding philosophy of ‘least restrictive care’ has assisted those with severe mental illnesses and chronic addiction issues to live successfully and independently in their home communities. Hope has often been restored, quality of life enhanced, and in many cases, lives have been saved.”

To help commemorate its 50th anniversary, the center will be offering free community suicide prevention training to local organizations. Interested parties can visit trainingourcommunity.org for more information.

Then and Now:

In the late 1950’s, Katherine Hamilton was faced with the reality of an inadequate mental health system that focused on institutionalized care. Her sister was struggling with severe mental illness (schizophrenia), and professionals did not provide much hope. After handing her sister over to a long-term care facility, with minimal knowledge or influence over the quality of care she would receive, she began to work to improve conditions and services for those with mental illnesses. Her work nationally and statewide would serve as a foundation for progress in treatment.

After the Community Mental Health Center Act passed in 1963, Indiana began working to establish community-based treatment. After immense community organizing and fundraising, the Katherine Hamilton Mental Health Center opened its doors at 620 8th Ave. in February 1971. People in the area were now able to seek services close to home rather than traveling to larger cities.

As a document from “The History of Hamilton Center” noted, “That history, is the story of citizens, volunteers and professionals… infused with the belief that mental illness was a major illness in a community and that the dire lack of facilities of treatment could be corrected. They believed that through community organization, this could be accomplished.”

Key historical highlights include:

  • 1967: Katherine Hamilton Mental Health Center became a not-for-profit corporation.
  • 1971: Main campus opened at 620 8th Ave.
  • 1972: Developmental disability services added.
  • 1973: Clay, Parke, Sullivan, and Vermillion Counties offices opened.
  • 1975: Greene County office opened.
  • 1976: Children’s services offered.
  • 1978: Residential services added.
  • 1981: Katherine Hamilton Mental Health Center changed to Hamilton Center, Inc.
  • 1986: Employment services added.
  • 1987: Child & Adolescent Services moves to new 500 8th Ave. building.
  • 1993: Healthy Families program opened.
  • 1995: Owen County services established.
  • 1995: Early Head Start services established.
  • 1997: Indianapolis office opened.
  • 1998: Putnam County office opened.
  • 2000: Bloomfield office opened.
  • 2012: HCI Foundation created.
  • 2017: Clubhouse services began.
  • 2018: WIN Recovery opened in Vigo County.
  • 2019: Grace Clinic Health Professional opened.
  • 2020: WIN Recovery offices opened in Knox and Hendricks Counties.
  • 2020: FQHC Look-Alike designation.
  • 2020: Received Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) grant.

Since 1971, Hamilton Center, Inc. has pursued a mission to provide quality behavioral healthcare, wellness, and human development services to the community by expanding behavioral health services to 21 locations across 11 counties in west central Indiana. Today, employing over 650 individuals, this regional organization has grown to include a comprehensive system of care including whole person wellness through integrated behavioral and primary healthcare services and a large menu of programs serving children and families.

“I speak for every employee, current and past, when I say thank you central and west central Indiana for your support and the privilege of serving our communities,” said Burks.

In celebration of its achievements, Hamilton Center will host events commemorating its golden year.

  • Proclamation of Hamilton Center, Inc. Day: On Feb. 18, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennet will be a guest on Facebook Live with Melvin L, and recognize Hamilton Center, Inc. for its 50 years of commitment to improving access and care to those struggling with mental illness.
  • The Annual Hamilton Awards Dinner: Hamilton Center, Inc. will conduct nominations for the Hamilton Awards beginning in fall of 2021, announcing winners on Oct. 26 at its annual dinner. More information about the event will be released in early fall.

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