During this past year, more than 1,000 men and women began their journeys toward recovery with McClendon Center. Thanks to you and your generosity, we are able to provide them – and our other 3,000 clients – with quality care, compassion, and services that are changing their lives for the better. Your support is truly helping our clients by giving them hope for a healthier future.

With your support during the past year, Byron was able to get housing after years of waiting and Judith gained the confidence to find full-time employment. And just this past month, one of our Community Support Specialists made sure that her client, Wanda, stayed on her medication in order to stop the cycle of going back into the hospital. Because of you and your generosity, these clients and many others have been able to reach milestones and improve the quality of their lives.

We have had many successes in the past year. We’ve increased the number of men and women we are able to serve; we’ve created a new team that responds in real time to our clients who visit the emergency room in order to decrease return visits; and we have rolled out scorecards that help us track how our staff are helping people in the most critical of areas (such as meeting with their psychiatrists).With so many successes, we still have a ways to go. And we need your help.

Please Make Your Gift Today

In 2020, we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary! This letter to you begins the launch of our year-long campaign during which we’ll be celebrating our past accomplishments, sharing our future goals, and featuring stories about and by our clients, our long-time friends, and people from the past who have made us who are we are today.

In the coming months we’d like to celebrate our 40th Anniversary by:

  • Building a library of gift cards to make emergency purchases for our clients who need help in outfitting a new apartment or getting coats and hats for the winter.
  • Creating a new Community Support team that will be able to lower existing caseloads and increase quality of care.
  • Raising $1,000 each week for the first 40 weeks of 2020—just in time for our 40th Anniversary Celebration!

But we need your help to make these things — and more! —happen.  I’m asking that you make a special year-end gift to help us reach our goal.  We can continue to fulfill our mission only through your help.

On behalf of Byron, Judith, and Wanda, and the rest of our 4,000 clients, thank you for giving them hope and inspiring them to work on their recovery.

Yours in service,

Dennis Hobb
Executive Director

This Holiday Season we are honored to be partnering with Blick Art Materials in the national Blick Give and Get campaign!  As a charitable partner of this giving event, we’re excited to offer a unique opportunity for you to donate to our art programs.  Visit your local Blick Art Materials retail location between November 29th and December 24th, 2019, to participate.

GIVE: Donate any art supplies purchased at Blick to help support our programs. (The DC Blick location will have a table displaying our Wish List art supplies near the front door!)

& GET: Receive a special offer for 20% off your entire transaction, valid 12/26/19-1/5/20!

See your local store (for locations, visit Store Locations) for more information.

Shara Cyrus, our former Day Program Clinical Manager, shares her reflections of her years with McClendon Center. Shara left McClendon Center in August to further her career with the DC Department of Behavioral Health, working with children with behavioral health needs.

There are very rare times that a person is lucky enough to find a place that gives them happiness and purpose at the same time. I was lucky enough to find that in 2012 with McClendon Center. When I got here, during training I saw a wonderful dynamic. I immediately felt a comfort and warmth. The clients shared so openly about their thoughts and feelings. I knew I had found a special place.During my time here, I worked on the early recovery team for co-occurring disorders. On this track, I was fortunate to facilitate the growth of countless clients. They always credited me with teaching them so much, but the truth is that I learned from them every day. I saw clients come in every day dealing with unimaginable stresses. Homelessness… addiction… trauma…. Abuse…. And yet and still they found a way to smile. They got up every day and fought. Not only day by day, but moment by moment. I learned the true value of a support network and saw strangers come in a blossom into people they never thought they could be. And through it all I was able to witness this transformation.

I know it sounds cliché to say that I am a helper but the truth is I am. I am a helping person who landed in a job that fulfilled me daily. I had a chance to grow along with my clients, from temporary staff to permanent staff, and finally to clinical manager. The experience that I gained here could never be compared to anything. McClendon Center is an unforgettable place. From the moment you walk in the door, you know you belong. If there is one overall lesson that anyone can learn from being here it’s this: Never count anyone out. 

McClendon Center’s Patient Discharge Coordination (PDC) program, a collaboration with AmeriHealth Caritas DC, was featured in the DC Hospital Association Quality Showcase publication. PDC was launched in 2015, with the goal of reducing hospital readmissions and improving HEDIS* measures by seamlessly transitioning and reintegrating individuals from psychiatric hospitalization back into the community. Since its inception, PDC has reduced hospital admissions from 17% to 9% — a 47% readmission reduction.

Read the full article HERE. Click on PDC for more information about this program.

*Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures six “domains of care”: effectiveness, access/availability, experience, utilization, health plan descriptive information, and collected measures through electronic clinical data systems.

We are honored to receive a generous grant from Capital Impact Partners in support of our Expressive Arts Therapy programs.

McClendon Center’s Expressive Arts Therapy program includes:

  • Art therapy, which  incorporates general art forms (i.e., painting, drawing) as well as journaling, written word, and photography to encourage clients to communicate their inner feelings and help them understand themselves better through the creative process.
  • Movement therapy, which is especially effective for clients with trauma, promotes self-awareness, a sense of control, and focus on the present-moment. Music and Sound groups encourages clients to explore emotional expressions through sound (e.g., clients may be instructed to “create a storm,” which may represent anger or frustration).
  • Music, in which clients are guided to actively listen and use music to regulate mood.
  • Indoor gardening therapy, which is based on horticultural therapy. Whether done in a large outdoor plots or in pots on the windowsill, the process is a metaphor for life’s ups and downs. Clients can see how nature works and heals itself, reconnect themselves to the external world, and work in the present moment.

Just as talk therapy (psychotherapy) uses words to express emotions and thoughts, expressive arts therapy uses the creative process to promote emotional growth and healing. This type of therapy is especially effective with individuals who find it difficult to articulate or connect with their feelings.

THANK YOU Capital Impact Partners for supporting our clients in the Expressive Arts groups, and for believing in our mission. 

Tell us a little about yourself

I identify myself as a mixed media artist. I love to push the bounds of what is considered “art materials” and I’ll use any material — like broken glass found in the street — to express an idea. But it took me a long time before I called myself an Artist. Formal art education can require you specialize a skill into one art medium so, until I learned about mixed media art and began exploring the process, I was measuring myself against a standard that was not my own.

I credit my maternal grandparents and my high school art teacher for nurturing my interest and involvement in the arts. My grandfather had a pottery studio in the basement and, at 4 or 5, I would throw wheel with him. My grandmother, who painted, always made art as well. Though neither of my grandparents chose art as a career, they were avid art collectors and they were always creating something – often with me right there with them. In high school, my art teacher (who coincidentally, shared the same surname as my maternal side of the family) trusted me to take creative risks, which gave me a sense of control and freedom to really push artistic boundaries.

While I “majored” in art during high school, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a formal art education. By the time I was graduating, I had so many interests, including a fascination with psychology, which led to my undergraduate degree. I considered the myriad of career routes in the mental health field and, at first, thought I might further my education with a PhD in clinical psychology. I also considered social work. However, I felt something was missing when I was exploring those career routes. Looking back, I know now it was a certain creative element. My “a-ha” moment came when I was living in New York City and took a workshop in art therapy at the School of Visual Arts. It was then that I realized it was a way of applying my creativity to my career.

(See a sampling of Tyler’s art at the end of this article.)

So, what IS Art Therapy?
When I work with someone unfamiliar with art therapy, I make sure that they understand that their final art piece is not the goal. That it’s not about how it looks, how skilled they are with the materials, or if they even like what they created. Rather, the goal is the process through which they create an image or object; it’s the thoughts and feelings that may come to them while they’re making art or, simply, the overall experience.

When engaging a client in art therapy, I try to hone in on a client’s creative proclivity. I think offering options towards creativity by introducing various techniques and art media can keep a person engaged or from getting discouraged. Some people have a schema of what they think art is. They may think they’re not good at art because they’re critical of their own skills or had a negative experience with art. I try to approach clients from the angle that art is not bound to a few specific things ꟷ that creativity is really unlimited. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy using a disparate assortment of objects and materials in art in my personal techniques. I’ve also incorporated that concept into my art therapy groups. By introducing a client to diverse art media, it can allow them to find things that they really gravitate towards, change their schema of what art is, and see the kind of artist they inherently are.

Is there a favorite project you’re working on with clients right now?
Much of art therapy works through the concept of the metaphor. In our sessions, clients are exploring the use of altered book, which transforms old (valueless or otherwise in disrepair) books into art journals using a wide variety of mixed media and papercrafting techniques such as collage, paint, fabric, and journaling. One metaphor behind the altered book is that the client is using a story that has already been written, like the person of whom they used to be prior to their recovery journey. Through the art and journaling process, the client empowers herself or himself through the metaphor that they are now writing their own narrative to the story. That is, they are taking control of their own life through choice.

I am also introducing the art of masks to explore identity. Masks have been around for centuries and are worn for performance, disguise, concealment or protection. For art therapy, clients are asked to paint how they portray themselves to the world, or how people perceive them, on the outside of the mask. Then they’re asked to paint the inside of the mask showing how they see themselves or how they really feel. The results are remarkable.

Any final thoughts?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from clients is that I can be myself. I think prior to my training and experience, I thought there was a demeanor or facade I needed to wear to be a therapist; but there isn’t. I don’t need to play a role to be a therapist. I try to be as authentic as I can be with my clients.


We are very proud to be recognized for our work by the MAXIMUS Foundation with a $5,000 grant in support of our programs and services. This grant will benefit the more than 3,500 DC men and women who come to McClendon Center for support toward achieving their highest degree of mental health recovery and independence.

“I am honored to present McClendon Center with this MAXIMUS Foundation grant for their amazing work to help those who are underserved in their community,” said John Boyer, MAXIMUS Foundation Chairman. “Through its innovative solutions, McClendon Center empowers both individuals and families, making an important impact on many people’s lives. On behalf of the MAXIMUS Foundation, I would like to thank the McClendon Center staff for everything they do, and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future as they continue to serve their community.”

A majority of our clients represent the most vulnerable population in our community – with most living below the DC poverty line and with inadequate or no access to primary health care. Our constituency is predominantly African American (88%) and 43% are 55 or older. In addition to their mental illness, many of our clients have at least one co-morbid medical condition such as hypertension, diabetes, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and asthma.  Stressful living conditions (such as homelessness or high-crime areas), food insecurity, poor physical health, and social isolation compound the risks of hospitalization, homelessness, incarceration, and shorter life expectancy.

While our primary source of revenue comes from Medicaid reimbursement for clinical services, other crucial but “medically non-essential” assistance and programs must be covered by other sources of funding. Therefore, this grant from MAXIMUS Foundation is invaluable toward helping to defray the costs of our support services.

THANK YOU MAXIMUS FOUNDATION for supporting our mission!


About MAXIMUS: Since 1975, MAXIMUS has operated under its founding mission of Helping Government Serve the People®, enabling citizens around the globe to successfully engage with their governments at all levels and across a variety of health and human services programs. MAXIMUS delivers innovative business process management and technology solutions that contribute to improved outcomes for citizens and higher levels of productivity, accuracy, accountability and efficiency of government-sponsored programs. For more information, visit www.maximus.com.

About the MAXIMUS Foundation: As the philanthropic arm of MAXIMUS, the Foundation extends the mission of the Company by identifying and awarding grants to partners with specialized expertise to deliver results within the same populations and communities served by the public programs the Company operates. The MAXIMUS Foundation is completely funded by MAXIMUS and its employees, and provides grants to local community organizations with programs and projects in the areas of child and youth development, health and community development.

“Among the most important human needs is the desire for respect and dignity. That need doesn’t change when a person becomes ill or disabled. Indeed, it may grow even stronger.”
— National Caregivers Library

What’s one of the first things you do when you get up in the morning? Besides eat breakfast, you most likely shower, brush your teeth, shave or wash your face — routine self-care before you head out the door. And you probably don’t think twice about buying toiletries or personal hygiene products.

But what if you had to make a choice between spending your money on medication, food, or toiletries? What if you don’t have any money at all? Soap, clean underwear, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products can mean a world of difference to a person recovering from mental illness, who may also be homeless or otherwise economically disadvantaged. (We estimate that one-third of our clients are homeless or living in community residential facilities.)

We are grateful to Metro Offices for sponsoring our first-ever Dignity Drive on our behalf. At each of their DC and Greater Washington locations, Metro Offices gathered bags and bags of toiletries, hygiene items, underwear, and other everyday necessities, which are being distributed to our clients. We know that with basic needs met*, our clients are better able to focus their energy on recovery, independence, and a better quality of life. (*McClendon Center’s Day Program also distributes two nutritious meals each day to program participants.)


Caitlin Gritt, McClendon Center Board member, who made the introductions between Metro Offices and McClendon Center, commented “We’re advocating on behalf of those we serve — because many of them cannot speak for themselves. I’m so grateful to work in such a supportive office space, surrounded by generous, engaged citizens.”

If you would like to host a Dignity Drive at your office, or as part of a community service project, please contact Elissa Brooks (ebrooks@mcclendoncenter.org) or use our Donate Now button to make a financial contribution.

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