The organization, which offers mental health services to Bucks County, is celebrating its 60th anniversary
By Samantha Bambino
In May of 1958, a small group of health professionals encompassed the all-new Mental Health Guidance Center of Bucks County, a satellite clinic of Norristown State Hospital. The purpose of the center was to provide psychiatric diagnosis and treatment to locals, all while reducing strain on the facility’s in-house resources.
Throughout its first year of operation, the clinic served 63 clients on a budget of $40,000. Today, the Mental Health Guidance Center is widely known throughout the county as the Lenape Valley Foundation, which provides mental health treatment, intervention services and more to 12,000 clients annually on a $22 million budget.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Aldie Mansion in Doylestown, Lenape Valley Foundation will commemorate 60 years of serving the Bucks County community with a special dinner celebration, which the public is invited to attend.
The evening will feature a cocktail hour with musical entertainment by pianist James Rogala. There will also be dinner and an awards ceremony that will recognize organizations and individuals that have played an instrumental role in helping LVF offer quality care over the years — Bucks County Crisis Intervention Team Task Force, Corrine L. Curtis, Ph.D., Doylestown Health and Edwin R. Knopf, M.D. Doylestown Mayor Ron Strouse will serve as the emcee of the event.
Ahead of the festivities, The Times spoke with Sharon Curran, COO of the foundation, who shared details on LVF’s vast history, how it continues to uphold and expand upon the mission outlined in 1958, and the vital services event proceeds will go toward.
When LVF was founded in 1958, its focus was primarily on the mental health needs of the community, something that held fast for a number of years. In the ’60s, LVF’s Doylestown site became the first Base Service Unit for Central Bucks while its Penndel site became the first for Lower Bucks. According to Curran, BSUs are responsible for delivering services required by the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities Act of 1966 to underserved people who have no resources or insurance.
Over the years, LVF expanded beyond the realm of mental health to become the primary provider of crisis services for the county, with LVF staff currently embedded in the emergency rooms of St. Mary Medical Center, Lower Bucks Hospital and Doylestown Hospital.
In addition to an ever-growing offering of mental health care, which includes psychiatry and outpatient therapy for all ages, LVF has delved into the areas of early intervention needs and intellectual disabilities. Care is coordinated for babies 0–3 years old who were born with a developmental delay, while individuals with an intellectual disability receive guidance on how to navigate school and employment.
Staff members also aid the community in case management services, LVF’s newest offering. Clients can receive help in securing housing, finding a job or preparing to go back to school. Basically, the foundation will help children and adults with anything they need to live a full life.
LVF continues to add new programming each year, which, in Curran’s opinion, is what keeps the organization thriving after six decades.
“Really responding to the needs of the community is how we’ve grown,” she said.
Proceeds from the dinner celebration will be put toward something Curran and LVF staff determined to be a necessity in the area — the first Crisis Residential Program in Bucks County. Currently under construction at a spot adjacent to Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol, the new facility will be an open, welcoming safe haven for individuals in need of crisis stabilization. They can voluntarily stay for five to 10 days, during which they’ll have access to treatment, medication management and therapy.
“We’re the only county in the area that does not have this level of service,” Curran said.
Without a Crisis Residential Program, the only alternatives are inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, which can be traumatizing and costly for a patient, or not receiving any sort of treatment.
“This kind of program offers something in between, just to get somebody stable for a few days and then they can go home,” she said. “Our goal is to have it be very warm and homelike and community based, and not institutional in how it looks or how we provide treatment.”
The new space, which will be called The Lodge, will also house a new outpatient wing, which will allow LVF to expand its services further, as well as a 24-hour crisis center. The Lodge, which is slated to officially open in January, will be accessible to all residents of Bucks County.
If you go…
Lenape Valley Foundation’s 60th anniversary dinner will take place on Thursday, Oct. 18, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Aldie Mansion, 85 Old Dublin Pike, Doylestown.
Community members are invited to attend this celebration. Reservations are required. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased at lenapevf.org. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
For additional event information, to buy tickets or learn more about sponsorships, contact Angela Jacobsen, development director, at email@example.com or 267–893–5267.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org