Community Health and Counseling Services
began in 1883 when a group of churchwomen organized Associated Charities, a coalition of church and voluntary charitable organizations located in and around Bangor.

1894 - Associated Charities of Bangor

In 1894, this group incorporated as the Associated Charities of Bangor. The Board of Directors included representatives from 19 churches and religious groups. The mission of the society was:

  • to enlist the services of a friendly visitor for each family
  • to provide that the case of each applicant be investigated thoroughly
  • to provide the means of confidential exchange of information between the overseers of the poor charitable societies, churches and benevolent individuals
  • to make all relief conditional upon good conduct and progress by the recipient

1904 - Board of Lady Visitors Society

For the next decade, all work of the Society was carried out by a "Board of Lady Visitors", each of whom was charged with a defined section of the city. This group met twice weekly to consider the needs of families they had visited and to assure that there was no overlap or duplication of assistance given.

During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Society generally aided between 200 and 300 people each year and spent approximately $1500 and $2000 per year.

1922 - Bangor Welfare Society

In 1922, the agency changed its name to The Bangor Welfare Society and the mission was expanded:

"Where possible, to restore to independence and normal life, disadvantaged families, by means of careful planning and the carrying out of such plans, which may involve relief, and employment, medical care, education, and the solution of family difficulties of all kinds whether due to internal or external causes."

1948 - Bangor Family Service Society

In 1948, child placement services (adoption and foster care) were initiated. The next year, the agency's name was changed to the Bangor Family Service Society. The change was made to signify that the rendering of financial assistance would no longer be the responsibility of the agency, as that responsibility had been assumed by the public sector. The Society concentrated on the provision of professional counseling services to individuals and families.

1958 - Family and Child Services of Bangor, Inc.

The Bangor Family Service Society changed its name in 1958 to Family and Child Services of Bangor Incorporated. This name change reflected an increasing emphasis on a variety of child-welfare services, such as foster home care, adoption services, and case work with children. The general purpose of these services was seen as preventive in nature: by solving the problems of children, it was thought that adults would be better able to function.

The agency took on the function of the Travelers' Aid Society in 1960. A variety of counseling and other assistance was offered to persons traveling through the community or to those without a permanent place of residence. These services continued for about 10 years.

Homemaker and Home Health Aide services were started in 1961 in cooperation with the Bangor/Brewer TB and Health Association.

1968 - The Counseling Center

In 1968, the Eastern Maine Guidance Center merged into The Family and Child Services of Bangor which changed its name to The Counseling Center. In response to the 1963 federal legislation and the local United Way Community Services' study, The Counseling Center became a comprehensive community mental health center. As a community mental health center, The Counseling Center offered inpatient,
outpatient, adult day treatment, consultation and education, research and evaluation services, and 24-hour emergency services. In 1969, regional offices were opened in Calais, Dover, Ellsworth, Greenville Junction, Machias, and Millinocket. By the early 1970s, The Counseling Center was firmly established as a community mental health center.

1980 - Community Health and Counseling Services

The Counseling Center added a significant new function in 1972 when it formed an advisory committee on home health services and established a health services department to provide home health care. As home health services grew, The Counseling Center changed its name to Community Health and Counseling Services in 1980. This new name for the organization more accurately reflected the broad range of services provided by the agency.

A hallmark of the 1980s was consistent growth in the variety and amount of services provided to community residents. This rate of growth began slowly in the early 1980s and continued to increase into the 1990s. CHCS provides services in a 22,000 square mile area which encompasses central, northern and eastern areas of the state.

In addition to substantial growth, the period since 1980 produced significant expansion in the types of mental health and home health care services provided by CHCS. Mental health services for children and their families are provided by the children's services department and now include treatment foster care, diagnostic and assessment services, group homes, substance abuse treatment, youth crisis services, education and day treatment, and outpatient therapy.

In response to State mandates, adult mental health services are available to people with severe and prolonged mental illness. Adult mental health services include housing options, such as group homes and transitional housing; partial hospitalization services; outpatient therapy and medication monitoring; community living services, including case management, intensive case management and assertive community treatment; and supported employment.

CHCS has become one of the largest providers of home health services in New England. In addition to specialized nursing care, home health aides and homemaker services, the health services department provides special programs for the elderly and people with Alzheimer's disease, rehabilitation therapies, medical social work, cardiac rehabilitation services, and a new hospice program.

1994 - CHCS Expands to Kennebec, Somerset, and Aroostook Counties.

In 1994, CHCS expanded outside of the four counties (Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Washington) and opened offices in Kennebec, Somerset and Aroostook counties. The organization also signed its first contract to provide services outside the State of Maine in collaboration with another provider.

CHCS continued  to maintain a leadership role in the delivery of community-based home health and mental health care. The organization was instrumental in the development of the Behavioral Health Network of Maine. As changes occur in the political and funding environment, CHCS maintained the ability to adapt to the changing environment and ensured continuity in the provision of quality health care services to its consumers.

The late 1990's saw new innovations in the agency's program offerings. CHCS launched a medical Hospice program in the summer of 1997, and since has expanded the program to serve residents of Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties. A Phase I Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, "Healing Hearts," provided home-based recovery from various heart ailments and surgeries. A Deaf Services program provided mental health services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing populations.

CHCS served as lead agency of Northeast Crisis Service, which since 1997 provided an array of crisis prevention and intervention services to children and adults in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties. Trained telephone crisis workers, mobile crisis teams, and a six-bed adult crisis residential unit are among services that are accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week under CHCS's leadership.

2000 - CHCS Enters the 21st Century

As CHCS entered the 21st century, it maintains the same basic philosophy upon which it was founded in 1883, a philosophy epitomized by the agency's current mission:

"Community Health and Counseling Services will provide community health services which are needed by communities we serve and valued by our customers."

CHCS is poised to meet the challenges faced with providing community-based home health, hospice and mental health services to those in need. 

The early part of the millennium was spent on the development of a home-based telemedicine system for rural residents in Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties.  In 2002, a grant received by the Maine Health Access Foundation, Inc., along with a USDA Rural Utilities Services grant helped fund the purchase of point-of-service computers, related software and other technology that provided a direct link between the client and CHCS professionals. 

Also in 2002, the Home Health Services Department received its first accreditation by the Community Health Accreditation Program, Inc. (CHAP).  CHAP's evaluations include reviews of the quality of an agency's programs, management, leadership and client outcomes, all with the goal of evaluating the quality of home care.  Through it all, CHCS earned high marks and gained a rare CHAP commendation for its staff development and education efforts.

In 2005, CHCS opened up two new facilities in Brewer, the Riverstone Crisis Stabilization Center and Penobscot Riverview Apartments.  Funding received from the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services supported the building of the two facilities that addressed the continuum of care for those individuals with mental health needs.  The Riverstone Crisis Stabilization Center offers temporary, voluntary residential support and professional counseling services to adults over 18 who are experiencing acute mental health difficulties.  Penobscot Riverview Apartments provide apartment housing for up to 12 individuals or adult couples who are homeless and diagnosed with a chronic mental health disorder or learning independent living skills.

CHCS was recognized as a Bronze level Well Workplace recipient by the Wellness Council of America in 2006.  The award recognized those companies with strong senior-level support, integrated wellness teams, strategic organizational health data and who deliver tailored programs to meet the organizations specific wellness needs.

In 2009, CHCS opened an office in Oxford County.  The Mechanic Falls office provides services through its Adult, Child and Family Services to those in need.

In 2010, CHCS joined with eleven other healthcare organizations to form the Bangor Beacon Community, with the goal of improving the health of people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and asthma.  The goal will be achieved in the Bangor community by building on the strong foundation of care management, collaboration, and connected electronic health records.  Community Health and Counseling Services hired Nurse Care Managers to work in partner sites so that the medically high-risk populations can be better served and to increase the utilization of electronic medical records both among the partners in the grant as well as other providers.

CHCS Mission

Community Health and Counseling Services will provide community health services that are needed and valued by the communities and individuals we serve.