Elly Jansen, OBE, (Order of the British Empire), has pioneered the creation and development of therapeutic communities. Dutch-born, she has spent most of her life working in England, where in 1959 she has founded the Richmond Fellowship halfway house. Since then, she has founded the Richmond Fellowship International and has accomplished the development of a flourishing network of community mental health facilities spanning the world from Australia and New Zealand to Austria, France, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada and the Americas.
An experienced social worker and trained nurse, Ms. Jansen long ago recognized the need for a new model of care and treatment, independent of the mental hospital and other traditional service institutions. She has embraced a holistic psycho-social approach, striving to eradicate the historical isolation of persons with mental health and other adjustment problems.
Since 1973, Ms. Jansen has been organizing international conferences on therapeutic communities, with the goal of sharing information and stimulating research. She has served as a consultant on community care for governments of many countries and is responsible for a growing number of publications about residential care and human services.
Ms. Jansen continues to campaign for a “whole society”, which will overcome stigma and prejudice and actualize the inherent right of all persons to be given opportunities for a compassionate and dignified response to emotional problems and mental breakdown, and to be afforded support, understanding and respite.
1959– The Richmond Fellowship was founded in England by Elly Jansen. The aim was to provide a model of residential community care for those suffering from mental or emotional disturbance and to promote public awareness of the issue
1968– The Richmond Fellowship of America (RFA) incorporated in the United States to operate community residences designed to assist emotionally or mentally disturbed adolescents and adults who no longer needed inpatient hospital care. RFA was a private non-profit corporation.
1970– RFA opened Oak Hill House in Hagerstown, MD. The program at Oak Hill House provides group care for fourteen emotionally disturbed adolescents. The adolescents are expected to offer verbal commitments to making an effort to progress within the program. Services provided to the residents include a total milieu program, therapy, educational support and vocational counseling.
1979– Fellowship Foundation Inc., a New York non-profit corporation was established to advance the work of the Fellowship in the United States by providing premises to establish new programs
1980-RFA opened a program in Annapolis, MD known as Arundel Lodge. Arundel Lodge originally opened to provide admission to twelve adolescents who had successfully completed the program at Oak Hill House and needed continued support with less supervision. Services were to be based upon preparation for independence. Shortly thereafter, Arundel Lodge evolved into a separate program to provide group care to males and females between the ages of 12-18 in need of a non-secure therapeutic environment. Like Oak Hill House, Arundel Lodge requires that children must offer at least a verbal commitment to complete treatment. Children accepted must evidence sufficient emotional and physical control as not to be a clear and present danger to themselves or others.
1981– Richmond Fellowship International (RFI), a non-profit British corporation was incorporated initially to obtain funding for projects in developing nations. RFI has a worldwide commitment to the rehabilitation and social integration of those who suffer by reason of mental disorder, addiction, developmental handicap and, in case of children, social deprivation and emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
1992– Oak Hill House and Eastern Point Group Home (formerly Arundel Lodge) had been a part of Richmond Fellowship of America, a multistate corporation based in New York; however, both houses were reorganized as United States Fellowship, Inc., a Maryland non-stock corporation whole sole member is Richmond Fellowship International based in London, England. A formal initiation for United States Fellowship, Inc. to establish its own Board of Directors
1993– The United States Board of Directors was established and Articles of Incorporation were developed.
In 1995, Oak Hill House and school were relocated to Clear Spring, Maryland and now was located in the country along a stream. Eastern Point Children’s Shelter was opened for youngster ages 8 to 12 across the driveway from Eastern Point Group Home.
2005– Our Executive Director of 25 years, Ms. Kathleen Snyder, resigns and her successor, Ms. Lori Sokolowski, becomes the new Executive Director of United States Fellowship, Inc. Ms. Sokolowski served for over seven years as Director of Oak Hill House prior and brought about many programmatic changes to enhance delivery of services. Additionally, Ms. Jansen, our Founder, resigns as President of our Board of Directors but remains firmly committed to supporting our sites as landlord, affiliate, and chief supporter of our programs, of which she remains today.
2010– Our programs in Annapolis, MD., Eastern Point Shelter and Eastern Point Group Home cease business and Oak Hill House & School are the remaining programs in Maryland. Ms. Courtney Wiggins, who served as Assistant Director for five years and Director for four years at Oak Hill House & School is named Chief Executive Officer of United States Fellowship, Inc.
2012– Site in Maryland was purchased, The Oak Hill Group LLC was established and USF, Inc. became owned and operated by its Board of Directors
2019– U.S. Fellowship-Florida, Incorporated and The Oak Hill Group-Florida LLC was established for the purpose of expanding our programs in the Pinellas/Pasco County areas due to homeless children needing a safe place to grow & thrive.
Today, all programs of United States Fellowship, Incorporated work at complementing each other’s strengths, and offering various services to the many youth and families within our communities in both Florida and Maryland.