Damar Services, a leading Indiana nonprofit that has provided services to children and adults challenged by intellectual, developmental and behavioral disabilities for more than 55 years, is acquiring the property currently known as St. Joseph Carmelite Home, a residential treatment site in East Chicago that was started by the Catholic order of the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus as an orphanage in 1913.
“Our order is grateful to have provided more than 100 years of service to children in northwest Indiana, but the needs of the children have grown more complex, and we’re being called to a new ministry in another state,” said Sr. Maria Giuseppe, leader of the St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home. “We are confident that Damar Services can continue to provide these much-needed services and even expand what the Carmelite Home offers.”
The Carmelite Home currently has 45 employees. No layoffs are anticipated.
“I am most grateful for the beautiful ministry and years of devoted service provided by the Carmelite Sisters to countless young people and their families. The impact of the St. Joseph Carmelite home has been enormous in the community of East Chicago and beyond,” stated Most Rev. Robert J. McClory, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Gary. “The passion and commitment of their caring for others has changed many lives and will be long remembered. At a date to be arranged, I look forward to gathering the community together to celebrate the sisters and the gift of this foundational ministry.”
“Damar is happy to step in to serve a community need and share our staff’s experience and expertise helping children with some of life’s most challenging situations,” said Dr. Jim Dalton, president and CEO of Damar Services. “With the sisters’ century-plus mission of compassion as our foundation, we look forward to meeting the needs of East Chicago-area families and children requiring specialized services.”
The Carmelite Sisters will continue to serve until Damar assumes ownership later this year or early next year. At that time, Damar will immediately take charge of services provided in the Carmelite Home’s residential setting and, as soon as feasible, establish ABA autism services.
Including those currently employed, Damar will hire approximately 60 new employees for the residential treatment setting and ABA services. Damar has tapped a veteran leader to relocate to East Chicago to assist in merging cultures and assuring continued high-quality service to the region.
Damar operates a 205-bed residential treatment facility at its main campus on Indianapolis’ southwest side, five ABA autism clinics, community-based treatment across the state and outpatient behavioral health services. In addition, Damar operates two schools for children with disabilities, provides foster care services, offers independent housing for adults with intellectual disabilities in its Damar Village, and provides primary healthcare services.
Damar Services started as Damar Homes in 1967 by Theodore and Beverly Farkas. Seeking the best situation for David and Martha, their two children with developmental disabilities, the Farkases found few options. While they couldn’t care for the children at home, they weren’t interested in the prevailing alternative of that time: a state institution with limited visitation privileges. Combining their love for their children with a creative vision, they developed what they named Damar (combining the names of their two children). More than a half-century later, Damar Services is recognized as one of Indiana’s leaders in meeting the needs of children and adults who face some of life’s most difficult challenges.