Amistad’s History


1982

Amistad founded as "Amity"

Amistad (originally known as the Amity Center) was founded in 1982 by families with loved ones who suffered from severe mental illness and who needed a safe place where they could spend free time and be treated with respect and dignity.

2002

Emergency Department Program opens

We received funding from the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) to create a peer support program in the emergency room at Maine Medical Center. The program now operates 7 nights a week at Mercy Hospital and is funded completely by DHHS.

2004

Program at Riverview Psychiatric opens

Amistad was invited to initiate a peer support program inside Riverview Psychiatric Center – one of the most aggressive peer programs of any state mental hospital in the country. Now  we have 7 full time and 1 part time staff working with the doctors and nurses.

2011

Peer Coaching Initiative founded

Amistad developed the Peer Coaching Initiative, the precursor of the current Peer Outreach Worker (POW) collaborative with Portland Downtown, in response to a DHHS campaign to redesign crisis services and reduce repeat emergency room visits. Peer coaches provide support and life coaching, and the program has had dramatic success in reducing ER use and increasing the quality of participants’ lives.
1996

Amistad becomes a non profit

Amistad formally became a non-profit corporation. Amistad was open seven days a week, serving 65 members a day, with 5 full time activity coordinators on staff.
2003

Amistad named "Agency of distinction"

United Way and Channel 6 recognized Amistad as an “Agency of Distinction.”
2007

The Healthy Amistad Initiative

The same year that we celebrated 25 years, research found that individuals with severe and persistent mental illness died 25 years younger than others. The Healthy Amistad Initiative was our response. Funded by MeHAF, this 3-year project focused on healthy eating and exercise, including educating and encouraging our participants to pay closer attention to their health. We also hired a Peer Patient Navigator who helps peers connect effectively to the health care system.

Today

Amistad has grown well beyond its “social club” beginnings and now offers a broad range of programs in Southern and Central Maine. The Portland Peer Support and Recovery Center is the largest peer center in Maine, and two more Peer Centers are now open in Bath and Boothbay. We also have peer coaches and outreach workers meeting with people on the streets and helping them access help. We provide healthcare navigation supports in a number of hospitals. And we offer recovery residences for women seeking recovery from substance use disorder, trafficking, trauma, incarceration, and much more. See our “Programs” page for more details.