The 1960s were a turbulent time in the city of Cleveland and across the country. And in 1970, as the new decade began, Cleveland was struggling with a changing economy, job loss, increasing levels of poverty, a rise in the use of illicit drugs and a declining population in the urban core.
The impact of this strife on many people living in Cleveland was real and often heartbreaking.
It was during this time, that two organizations were born. Organizations that, for nearly 50 years, have made helping people live healthier, more successful lives their life’s work. They have helped countless individuals and families fight back against the effects of poverty, inadequate education and job training, drug addiction, physical health concerns and mental health challenges.
These respected not-for-profit organizations have both evolved over time, in response to the changes in the needs of the community and the changes in economic and public policy.
Now, nearly 50 years after their founding, Circle Health Services, Inc. and The Centers for Families and Children are evolving once more; this time, through an affiliation agreement that will allow the organizations to share not only a common purpose, but a leadership structure, administrative functions and client services while each maintaining their cherished legacies.
Public health nurse Jeanne Sonville launched the Together Telephone Hotline for drug users. Based on statistics gathered from the hotline showing a need for access to medical care for drug users, The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland was established, ensuring health care was available to individuals, regardless of their ability to pay.
Leona Bevis, Louise Humphrey and Nancy Lyon Porter founded The Center for Human Services, merging five agencies: Family Service Association, the Day Nursery Association, Traveler’s Aid Society, Cleveland Homemaker Service Association and Youth Service, which all had rich histories of service to our community dating back to the mid-1800s. Their shared vision was that by integrating their services, they’d better be able to help the people they served.
The Free Clinic moved into a larger facility at 12201 Euclid Avenue.
The Center for Human Services changes its name to The Center for Families and Children to better reflect its focus and reach.
The Free Clinic launches a needle exchange program to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS
West Side Ecumenical Ministries (WSEM) and El Barrio join forces with The Center for Families and Children, and the new name of the organization becomes The Centers for Families and Children. As a combined organization, The Centers now has an integrated service model that invests in individual’s and families’ physical health, mental health, early learning needs and workforce development needs.
The Free Clinic becomes a federally qualified health center, allowing the clinic to provide care to people with insurance, as well as individuals without insurance or the ability to pay.
The Free Clinic changes its name to Circle Health Services, Inc. reflecting both the clinic’s commitment to inclusive care and its location in University Circle.
Circle Health and The Centers become affiliated organizations, to strengthen their ability to provide integrated care and have greater impact on the people they serve together.
We employ more than 650 staff, reach more than 23,000 people annually, and partner with leading hospitals, educational institutions and capacity-focused organizations to give as many people as possible the chance to build a better future.