Channel Marker Celebrates 40 Years

For 40 years, Channel Marker has improved the lives of individuals on the Mid Shore living with severe and persistent mental health challenges. Founded in 1982, Channel Marker continues to strengthen the community by providing excellent mental health and wellness support services. Channel Marker accomplishes this through prevention programs, rehabilitation, and community services enhancing the quality of life for the individuals whom it serves. Channel Marker’s work is widely recognized across Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties on the Mid Shore as a valued community asset.

Channel Marker’s Services

Channel Marker’s mission is unwavering and continues to help create a healthy Mid Shore community by providing mental illness treatment and prevention programs, wellness support, and community services to individuals and their families.

The Channel Marker Courtyard at its Glebe Park Drive headquarters in Easton is beautiful and welcoming.

The most recent addition to Channel Marker, Inc.’s line of mental health and wellness support services is the addition of Residential Crisis Beds. Beginning this spring, Channel Marker will implement a new Residential Crisis Beds service to address the needs of individuals who are seeking stabilization through acute, non-emergent crisis support services. Recognizing the pressing need for a less traumatic alternative to psychiatric hospitalization on the Mid Shore, Channel Marker is campaigning to raise $1 million to add an eight-bed crisis facility within its Glebe Park Drive headquarters in Easton.

Currently the nearest similar crisis facilities are located in Somerset and Anne Arundel counties, leaving a dearth of treatment options in Talbot, Caroline, and Dorchester counties. When complete, this new facility will allow faster access to appropriate, therapeutic care and ease the burden on local hospitals.

Additionally, Channel Marker has launched a $250,000 Caroline Youth Center Capital Campaign helping Caroline County children, ages 5 to 18, in the new Caroline Youth Center in Denton. Serving youth who have been diagnosed with a wide variety of mental health challenges, this youth center is the latest addition to the three-acre campus that also includes three supervised residences and an adult wellness center. Formerly the Caroline Hospice House, the Caroline Youth Center is a friendly and comfortable setting for interactive activities that mirror the work and play experience in which children struggle to cope. At the Caroline Youth Center, youth will find hope for a bright future and lifelong wellness.

Humble Beginnings

Channel Marker’s articles of incorporation were signed on March 2, 1982. The beginnings of Channel Marker came from the deinstitutionalization movement and the clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation. Some of the early work on this came out of New York with the Fountain House, and from Boston University with its Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation. There was advocacy to help people with a serious mental illness to rejoin society and maintain their place in it. The idea was to build on people’s strengths and provide support and training.

In 1981, there was an initiative started by the Talbot County Health Department. The original proposals wanted to provide people more services than what they were receiving at the traditional clinics. Susan Bishop, a social worker, was loaned from the Eastern Shore Hospital Center to work on this proposal with Dr. Grobler, the Community Liaison Officer. Susan would later become very involved with Channel Marker as both a board member and a strong advocate for clients, called “members” at that time. Susan’s proposal was accepted in October 1981. She served as a consultant on this project and assisted with hiring of the first staff.

Channel Marker started with rented space in local churches. Dr. Grobler suggested the name of Channel Marker as a sign of helping people to find their way back to recovery. Clients were instrumental in designing the first logo.

The first budget to be submitted to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was for $117,237. As they say, the rest is history. From there, programs were launched in three Mid Shore counties. Today, Channel Marker owns four day-program facilities, seven houses, and a transportation fleet.

The most notable expansions to date are the additions of the Group Practice in 2012, Health Home in 2013, the Wellness Center in Easton in 2016, and the Caroline Youth Center in 2018. Late this spring, Channel Marker will open its seventh service line with the addition of the residential crisis beds. Today, more than 55 clinical and mental health services staff serve an average of 300 clients each year.

The Channel Marker staff is excited to celebrate its 40-year anniversary and is looking forward to great things ahead. For additional information, visit www.channelmarker.org.

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