About Clara Martin Center
Clara Martin Center is a community-based, non-profit organization that provides acute and long-term behavioral health care services.
Clara Martin Center (formerly known as Orange County Mental Health Services, Inc., with a name change in 1994) was founded as one of ten mental health agencies organized by Vermont Statue developed in 1966. Our roots stem from local clergy and social service professionals who saw a need for supportive counseling services in the community as an alternative to placement of persons at the Vermont State Hospital.
Originally known as Orange County Mental Health Services, the name of the center was changed to the Clara Martin Center in 1994 to honor Clara Martin, one of its founders and a pioneer for mental health care in Orange County.
When John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act into law in 1963, it changed the delivery of mental health care across the country. This was the last legislation he signed into law prior to his assassination three weeks later.
The Community Mental Health Centers Act Amendments of 1965 provided grants for constructing and staffing facilities to treat substance use disorders when it became apparent that comprehensive treatment for addiction and mental disorders was essential to treating the whole individual.
Called a “bold new approach,” this new legislation authorized Federal grants for the construction of community mental health centers to provide inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization, emergency services, and consultation services. This began a new movement to treat mental illness in community settings, rather than psychiatric hospitals and other institutions, with an effective, humane, and cost-savings approach. In Vermont, a designated agency system of care was created in every county.
At that time, Clara Martin and others were advocating for this rural region as part of the reform effort. This ensured that the small rural towns in Orange County were not overlooked when the state rolled out the new Federal initiative to create a designated community mental health system.
Clara and her husband, Dr. Brewster Martin, had come to Chelsea, Vermont, in 1953 and opened a medical practice and later a nursing home, caring for local residents. Clara worked as Brewster’s assistant and recognized that the care for those with a mental illness – usually a stay at the state hospital lasting for several years and sometime decades – often robbed the spirit from their lives.
Clara Martin and others shared concern for the care of those patients and wanted to bring those affected back home to their communities. At the time, Dr. Martin’s office had a social worker one half-day each week. The local mental illness specialist had a waitlist of six months or more.
With the new legislation, initial and minimal services were offered out of Dr. Martin’s medical office and broadened into the region with the establishment of the Orange County Mental Health Services on October 27, 1966. Located in Randolph, Vermont, the agency served all of Orange County and the five northernmost Windsor County towns, establishing the deep roots that have allowed the agency to grow and strengthen in order to meet the ever-changing needs of these communities over the last 50 years.
Clara Martin Center’s programs serve children and families, and individuals coping with behavioral challenges, emotional stress, mental illness, alcohol, and other drug problems. Services are confidential and include, (but are not limited to), counseling, psychiatric services, consultations, short-term crisis intervention, education for families related to emotional and behavioral challenges, evaluations, respite care, housing, assistance in obtaining disability benefits, help with finding and keeping employment, outreach and home-based services, alcohol and drug treatment, a walk-in clinic, and a 24-hour emergency service system.
The Clara Martin Center provides community mental health services focused on community integration, coping, enhanced functioning, and improved quality of life. Our agency is committed to providing quality services and extending its services to nearby communities to ensure a continuum of care.
Learn More About Our Services
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Partnerships & Collaboration
The Clara Martin Center is regional in its efforts to be able to bring broader resources to the area in which we serve. We are in partnership with agencies throughout Vermont, including the HowardCenter, WCMHS, Second Spring North, and South through Collaborative Solutions Corporation.