THE BIRTH OF COMMUNITY ADDICTION SERVICES
EmberWood Center began in 1979 as a prevention program of the Near Eastside Multi-Service Center (now the John H. Boner Community Center). We were first known as the Near Eastside Primary Prevention Project and, a year later, adopted the shorter name of the Alternatives Project. In 1981, we added outpatient treatment for adolescents and shortly thereafter adopted the name Prevention Intervention Treatment Services, or “PITS,” for short. Needless to say, we took some grief for PITS, but the young people we served could definitely relate to being in the PITS!
In 1984 EmberWood Center decided to reach farther and opened Mirage Retreat, a statewide residential adolescent treatment center. Mirage was designed to continue our focus on providing affordable services to those individuals who lacked the means to access services elsewhere.
In 1987 we launched our signature youth-prevention project, the Confidence Club, which is a variation of the alternatives approach to prevention we started in 1979. The Confidence Club uses the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do to teach young people life skills by focusing on mental and physical disciplines. Today the dojo is connected to our administrative offices.
In 1989 Indianapolis had the highest infant mortality rate of any first world country. In response to that alarming statistic, we collaborated with Westminster Presbyterian Church and People’s Health Center to raise awareness about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs affecting infant mortality. That program became know as HIFI (High Intensity Future Investments).
In 2000, Vincent Failla, the original program director of PITS, returned as president to guide the organization at a time of transition. In the years that followed, the agency redefined its mission, vision and values and focused on technological improvements. In 2006, the Board and staff completed an in-depth assessment and procured grants for a capacity-building and rebranding/marketing process, leading to the name change from CASI to Emberwood Center in early 2009. This effort included reaching out to local leaders to double the size of the Board of Directors. Today we are in a high growth phase, with plans to increase the number of adolescents we serve once again and to expand our prevention and support services to families.
In July 2009 Emberwood Center hired a new President, Dr. Robert Burgbacher. The plan was for Dr. Burgbacher to be an Interim President for Emberwood….he remains as the Executive Director today. In 2010 Emberwood became a subsidiary of Mental Health America and moved to their facility at 1431 N. Delaware Street. The mission on Emberwood remains the same.