On a warm, sunny June 17, agency staff and residents gathered at Friendship Manor in Pottstown, PA, to mark the site’s 20th anniversary as a CareLink residential program.

 
 

“It’s great that we’re able to celebrate a special anniversary like this,” Regional Director Rebecca McKeown said of the gathering. “The program staff always does a wonderful job organizing parties.”

The Friendship Manor program originated at a time when state psychiatric hospitals had begun closing. Although the majority of people receiving in-patient care at Norristown State Hospital had already left the facility, some with more challenging needs remained because individual counties in southeastern PA were unable to fund the specialized services those individuals needed to live in the community. To help address the issue, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties pooled their resources and created the Southeast Regional Mental Health Services Coordination Office in 2001. The regional collaborative organization chose CareLink as the provider of a new, intensive long-term supportive living program, and in June 2002, Friendship Manor opened its doors to nine men and women living with serious mental illness and a diverse range of co-occurring disorders.

While the program structure and staffing are designed to meet the high level of need experienced by its residents, the expectations and setting of Friendship Manor are consistent with integrated community living. CareLink selected the East High Street apartment building for the combination of privacy and supports it allows; located at one end of Pottstown’s main thoroughfare, the building is within walking distance of stores, a public library, medical services, and more.

Friendship Manor currently employs around 16 part- and full-time direct care professionals and is home to nine program participants.