Dawn Farm began in 1973 with the combined contributions of four individuals, Gary Archie, Jim Balmer, Colleen “Beanie McCarthy” and Jack Scholtus. Using the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and some borrowed ideas from the Spera Foundation, a residential program in Quebec, they rented the Farm on Stony Creek Road.
Some milestones in the life of Dawn Farm:
1973 – Incorporated in April with five volunteer Trustees. Gary Archie is founding Executive Director.
1974 – First foundation grant from the Sage Foundation in Adrian. Gary and Beanie are married in a ceremony held at the Farm.
1975 – Gary and Beanie leave the Farm; Jack Scholtus is named Executive Director.
1977 – First free-standing “Re-entry House” rented on Platt Road in Ann Arbor.
1980 – Jack Scholtus leaves; Steve Housewright named Executive Director.
1982 – Faced with possible condo development on Stony Creek parcel, Housewright raises $118,000 to purchase 74 acre Farm property. Steve Housewright leaves at the end of 1982; Jack Scholtus returns as Interim Executive Director.
1984 – Purchased and renovated Re-entry House on Division Street in Ann Arbor. Jim Balmer named Executive Director (position later changed to President).
1988 – Raised $805,000 over 18 months to build new Farm facility with a grant from the Kresge Foundation. Ypsilanti Township writes new zoning code allowing Dawn Farm a permanent home.
1990 – Finished construction of 15,600 square foot building. Jim Balmer travels to visit treatment programs in Hong Kong, and helps with the development of a facility in Manila.
1994 – In response to requests from Washtenaw County and the State of Michigan, absorbed three new programs from a failed agency, increasing the organization’s budget from $600,000 to $1,200,000. This move created a 13 bed Detox Facility, a Women’s Transitional Program for pregnant addicts and women with young children and increased residential capacity from 30 to 50 beds.
1995 – Purchased/renovated new residential site in former Senior Citizens Guild building on Huron Street in Ann Arbor.
1995 – Obtained national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
1998 – Began fund-raising campaign to complete purchase of Huron Street site and eliminate mortgage by the year 2002. Opened first transitional house at 112 Chapin Street.
1998 – Conducted community-wide Stakeholders Meeting, drawing input from large group of interested individuals. New mission statement is introduced to the community.
1999 – With success of initial houses, Chapin Street Project expands with the purchase of an 18-unit apartment complex. A women’s transitional site is opened in Ann Arbor.
2000 – Huron Street House is opened as a one to three month residential treatment facility. Working with numerous public funding sources and Avalon Housing, transitional houses at 410 High and 112 Chapin Street are purchased. Jim Balmer travels to Kazakhstan to assist in helping people with addictions.
2001 – 343 Beakes is purchased in 2001. Outpatient office is opened. Dawn Farm works with Ann Arbor businesses to create “Loose Change for Real Change,” a community response to panhandlers. The Dawn Farm Street Outreach hires its first full-time street worker.
2002 – Dawn Farm embraces Strategic Plan with additional community input, developing plans for adolescent services and an expanded detox facility.
2002 – Jim Balmer travels to Tokyo to train Japanese addiction professionals, beginning a professional relationship that continues to the present.
2003 – The Daybreak adolescent program is developed in cooperation with Washtenaw County Children’s Services and the Juvenile Drug Court.
2004 – Dawn Farm launches the “Recovery is Everywhere” anti-stigma campaign, offering advertisements, posters and other materials to the general public.
2005 – After absorbing large cuts in detox funding and being notified of another round, we considered closing the program. Jim instead announces our intention to not only keep Detox open but to reduce reliance on public funding so that our programs are never in jeopardy based on funding cuts.
2009 – Dawn Farm is named one of metro Detroit’s Top Workplaces in the Detroit Freepress (and has remained on the list ever since)
2010 – Our Huron Street and Detox programs flip sites in order to accommodate a growing need for detoxification. Detox is renamed Spera (Latin for hope – and a hat tip to Montreal’s Spera Foundation, upon which the Farm was partly based). The residential program on Huron Street becomes Dawn Farm Downtown
2011 – Dawn Farm hosted Bill White as a part of our Education Series. Bill W. is the first of many nationally recognized speakers to attend our series including Dr. Kevin McCauley, Dr. George Valliant, and Jennifer Matesa.
2014 – Dawn Farm purchases 2208 Packard, a transitional house that also has a meeting space for staff and clients as well as a pantry for food, toiletries, and interview-appropriate clothing
2015 – Launch of The Unicorn Project
2016 – In collaboration with the CDS Foundation, acquisition of “Tino’s House” on Gott Street, transitional living for men – bringing transitional beds to 180.
2016 – Launch of Recovery Is Good Business
Notable in recent years has been the improvement of Quality Assurance tracking within the organization and the continued move toward a strategic, committee-driven Board of Trustees. The organization is managed through a series of Board Committees, with active Board/staff communication and collaboration in all areas of the agency’s life.
In addition, this system regularly solicits and utilizes feedback from full- and part-time staff, non-Board volunteers, agency clients and the community at large. In recent years, the organization has built on a history of mission-driven service to produce an organization that strategically utilizes all stakeholders in planning programming and evaluating organizational effectiveness.