From small beginnings come great things
The 1970s and 1980s marked the height of deinstitutionalization in the District and large numbers of individuals with mental illness, many of whom were institutionalized for years and ill-equipped to live independently, were released into the community with little to no treatment, skills, income, or housing. This was evident by the large number of former patients who were living on the streets, incarcerated, or caught in cycles of rehospitalization. The Reverend Doctor Jack E. McClendon, a long-time pastor at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (NYAPC), envisioned the need for community-based care in DC subsequent to the release of hundreds of patients from the District’s only psychiatric hospital, St. Elizabeths. So in 1980, McClendon Center had its start as a social outreach mission of the NYAPC.
Over the years we outgrew our original mission, and in 2003, became legally independent of the church by incorporating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization. In 2006, we were certified by the DC Department of Behavioral Health as a Specialty Provider of Rehabilitation/Day Services; in 2007, we established a second location to house our Core Services Agency (CSA) for our psychiatric treatment and community support services. Our services were again greatly expanded in 2009 when DC closed its network of government-operated mental health centers.
Today, our administrative staff and Day Program continue to be housed in the NYAPC and our team of mental health specialists provide assistance to more than 1,000 men and women at our CSA. We are committed to the principles of continuous quality improvement. Our clients are the primary beneficiaries of our services, while the community at large is benefited by their improved ability to be full members of our community. In a concerted effort to best serve our clients, the Joint Commission, the DC Department of Behavioral Health, the DC Department of Health Care Finance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the McClendon Center Board of Directors, among others, all contribute in the evaluation process regarding the Center’s performance.