In 1988 Maria Gomez, President and CEO of Mary's Center, was working as a nurse at the District of Columbia's Department of Health. There she witnessed a large increase in the number of Latin American immigrants migrating to the United States to escape war, poverty, and death. Many of the women had been raped or experienced other trauma in their journeys north. Once in the United States, these women often went without prenatal care because they had nowhere to go. Mary's Center was founded that year to help meet the needs of these vulnerable women. Created with funding from the D.C. mayor's Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) and the D.C. Department of Health, Mary's Center started delivering bilingual health services to pregnant women and their infants in the mainly Latino areas of the city's Ward 1.
Since its doors opened, Mary's Center has grown from a small basement clinic that served 200 women a year to a Community Health Center that serves over 40,000 men, women, and children. Our array of services and our constituency have both broadened significantly since our inception. Using a holistic social change model, we provide comprehensive health, social, and education services to underserved, underinsured, and uninsured individuals in the D.C. metropolitan region as well as to newcomers from over 100 countries.
Between 1988 and 2016 our staff size grew from 10 to over 500 and our annual operating budget from $250,000 to over $45 million. In early 2009, a month after her husband's inauguration, Mary's Center was privileged to host First Lady Michelle Obama on her first D.C. community visit. Her empathy and sincerity left a permanent impression on the teens, children, and staff who interacted with her. It is no coincidence that all the seniors in our Teen Program present that day are now attending college.
Mary's Center now provides comprehensive services at seven locations in D.C. and Maryland, including a Senior Wellness Center. We also operate mobile units: the Mama & Baby Bus, providing health screenings throughout the D.C. area, and a pediatric dental unit, the Dental Cruiser, reaching underserved middle school students in Prince George's County, Maryland.
Our success in improving lives and strengthening communities, one family at a time, has fostered important partnerships and earned us many awards. We work closely with a network of service providers around the metropolitan region. We also collaborate with academic researchers on studies examining effective practices. To learn how we are preparing for the future, click here.