A History of Excellence. A Vision for the Future.
The Damar of today provides a wide range of effective services and supports. We help those with severe autism learn to talk. Youth with severe behavioral challenges improve to the point of returning to a traditional school setting. An adult diagnosed with mental retardation exceeds the expectations of all who know them.
Many say that a visit to Damar Services' campus in southwest Indianapolis feels more like a college tour than a visit to a residential facility. At Damar, people are filled with hope — the hope of achieving their greatest potential.
But it wasn't always so. When Damar Services was founded in 1967, many people with developmental disabilities or severe behavioral challenges experienced life in state mental institutions. Few had any hope of achieving some independent living or reaching their potential.
It was during this period that Beverly and Theodore Farkas, parents of David and Martha Farkas, two children with developmental disabilities, faced a huge dilemma. They could not care for their children in a home setting. Alternatives beyond a state institution or out-of-state residential care were not available.
These courageous parents knew that an alternative should be in place. Together with likeminded professionals and social workers, they founded that alternative. In honor of the two children who inspired its founding, David and Martha, the new and forward-looking alternative facility was named Damar, a combination of their first names.
In the late 20th century and the early 21st century, Damar would grow to offer many different types of effective treatment and services, leading the not-for-profit industry to identify and share its best practices in research and client care with others in similar operations or fields.
The founders purchased property from the Duesenberg family for what would become Damar's main residential facility in 1969, and the first children were able to call Damar home by 1970. Damar extended its services into the community in 1982 when it opened its first Group Home.
The original campus facilities have been modified, rebuilt and expanded, today reflecting several residential facilities, treatment and counseling areas, and recreational and educational buildings. Damar's grounds include secure and monitored picnic areas and playgrounds, believing that those it serves should grow and live as independently as possible.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Damar continued to expand its community operations, adding additional Group Home facilities and treatment options. Its commitment to serving those with development disabilities led Damar to serve those who have challenging emotional and behavioral needs. To serve children suffering from previous incidents of abuse, Damar developed and established the Behavioral Alternative in a Secure Environment (BASE) program. Today, Damar's BASE program offers a secure therapeutic environment where adolescents learn how to reduce inappropriate behavior and develop the positive social skills needed for more independent living.
In 2001 Damar expanded its recreational programs with the construction of an indoor therapy pool and fitness center. This extended service reinforces creative and healthy alternatives for those facing behavioral challenges. Two years later, Damar launched its behavioral consultation and counseling initiatives. It expanded its professional clinical staff with psychologists, therapists and counselors, improving the depth and breadth of Damar's already high standards.
In the mid-2000s, Damar added to the services it offered to children and adults diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and also founded Damar Best, a formal effort to identify and promote best practices within its professional services.
As Indiana continued the closure of its residential institutions, Damar became actively involved in helping place the former residents, and also in providing specialized training to first responders such as educators, EMTs, fire and law enforcements professionals who may encounter people with developmental challenges in a public setting.
Today, Damar Services is well-known as a provider of choice and its positive reputation has transcended the borders of Indiana. Damar leadership and clinical professionals regularly speak at seminars and public meetings about the challenges facing people with developmental, behavioral and intellectual disabilities. Damar added formal research capacity in 2006 to its professional offerings, and works to establish meaningful collaborative partnerships with universities and entities such as the Riley Hospital for Children. It also opened the Damar Academy, providing specialized educational support for those who are unable to attend school in a more traditional setting.
Still having to turn away children from services because of a lack of capacity to fully meet the needs for its programs, Damar launched the largest expansion in its 40-year history in 2005 to expand its physical resources and intellectual human capital. Beyond a significant self-investment and to support this expansion, the organization in November 2005 also launched the Exceeding Expectations capital campaign in November 2005.
Today Damar Services remains steadfast in its commitment to improve its service to the community and to those facing life's greatest developmental and behavioral challenges. Damar continues to refine its programs and explore new means to improve the quality of life, independence, and empowerment of the children and adults it proudly serves.
Vision for the FutureAs demonstrated in our history, mission, and philosophy, Damar remains committed to identifying and exporting best practices in treatment options for those we serve. While Damar has enjoyed tremendous growth over the decades since it was founded in 1967, these achievements have only come through the serious dedication and toil of those who came before us. To maintain our commitment, an even greater dedication is required.