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Walden Celebrates 40 Years of Service to Southern Maryland in 2013
The name Walden was inspired by a quote in Thoreau’s book. “I went into the woods to live deliberately…”.Walden was founded by a group of parents concerned about the burgeoning drug use among teens in the community. The county Government leaders demonstrated foresight and courage during those early years, allocating land and funding a crisis hotline which has served as a lifeline for citizens as well as providing vital information regarding changing needs over the last four decades. It is now considered one of the longest running professionally staffed hotlines in the country. The hotline has responded to more than a half million calls and identified several gaps in the human service delivery system that have been filled by Walden and our partners over the years.
In an economy when many small non-profits and businesses struggle or fail, Walden Sierra (Walden) is flourishing and turning 40 in 2013. The non-profit behavioral health organization, home-grown in St. Mary’s County, first opened its doors in California, Maryland in 1973. “We named ourselves Walden after Thoreau’s Walden because we were literally located in the woods! Our success is due, in large part, to the caring community who support our efforts to provide Help for today, hope for tomorrow” explains CEO Kathleen O’Brien, who first came to the organization as an intern in 1973. Since then, Walden has expanded as the population in Southern Maryland has grown in an effort to meet community needs for crisis intervention, community outreach, treatment and recovery support services. Nationally accredited and a model for best practices in our field, Walden operates 4 outpatient treatment sites in Lexington Park, California, Charlotte Hall and Waldorf, a residential treatment center in Charlotte Hall, 2 half-way house facilities in Charlotte Hall and California, and 2 recovery support community centers in Lexington Park and California. Mental health and psychiatric clinic services were added in 2012 at the Charlotte Hall and Lexington Park locations, while a group mental health practice is available at the Waldorf site.
“With gratitude and pride, our 40th anniversary is good time for us to reflect with the community on how far we have all come since 1973. It is a time to celebrate what we have built and recognize those in the community who have helped us build it over the years. It is also a time to focus on current and future behavioral health needs. Now more than ever, Americans and Southern Marylanders included are aware of how important behavioral health education and access to treatment services are to everyone’s well-being, Thoreau continues to inform our work. His quote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you imagined” sits on my desk as a reminder of our important work”, says Dr. Kathleen O’Brien.
Walden’s 40th anniversary celebration will include a series of special events and activities. This year’s annual Outback Steakhouse Luncheon on February 28th will feature a special gift under 40 of the seats. The 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes-St. Mary’s event on April 7th will include a special shoe sculpture created by youth volunteers of Walden’s Cove/DFZ recovery center with 40 decorated shoes with 40 unique messages about dating violence and healthy masculinity. The 2nd annual Recovery Block Party and Healing Walk on September 29th will premier 40 stories of hope and recovery contributed by local individuals. A signature event will be held at Old Breton Inn on September 27th, 2013.
Walden invites the community to a series of open houses at our facilities throughout the year as part of our anniversary celebration. The first open house will have “Old Oldest is Our Newest” theme and be held on Tuesday April 16th at Walden’s original site, now home to Walden’s newest site, The Cove/DFZ Youth Recovery Center. Honored guests at all 40th anniversary events will include those community leaders and community members who have been a part of Walden’s past and present success. For more information, contact us at 301-997-1300 x 804 or stop by our website, www.waldensierra.org from February 2nd onward to read more about our 40th anniversary celebration activities!
Walden Sierra, Inc. is a non-profit behavioral health organization that provides a comprehensive array of crisis, trauma, behavioral health and recovery support services that contribute to the well-being of Southern Maryland. Walden’s 24 hour crisis hotline is 301-863-6661.
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