Helping people live independent lives – AWARE helps people live independent lives, birth through adulthood. Founded in 1976 as a nonprofit corporation, AWARE delivers services for children and families as well as people with challenging mental health, emotional, and in some instances, physical disabilities. AWARE employs 1,400 employees in 37 communities across Montana.
AWARE works to ensure the people we serve achieve maximum independence, productivity and integration into the community.
We provide services that help individuals and families succeed in their communities, make sound life choices – where they will live and who they will interact with – and determine what they want out of life. It seems like a simple idea, but many of the people we work with have been left out of these life choices.
We work with them to eliminate the can’ts, shouldn’ts and don’ts they too often face.
We help people become active and vital members of their community with full rights and responsibilities.
We place the emphasis on each individual’s opportunity for personal growth. We design our programs with that in mind.
AWARE started in 1976 with a small group of parents sitting around a kitchen table discussing opportunities and possibilities for their children who had special needs. Their discussions led to the opening of a small furniture refinishing business where people affected by developmental disabilities could learn a trade and make a valuable contribution to the community. The AWARE acronym – Anaconda Work and Residential Enterprises – reflects that historical mission.
From those modest beginnings, AWARE has grown into an organization that helps thousands of people achieve their potential in communities across Montana. Today AWARE employs more than 1,000 people in 36 communities. Our main office is a handsomely renovated historic building in downtown Anaconda, Montana.
Originally formed to meet the needs of people affected by developmental disabilities, today AWARE is the leading provider in Montana of mental health and disability services for adolescents and adults.
Improving lifestyles and opportunities for Montanans with disabilities or mental challenges is a constant need. We offer a variety of services in fully licensed and nationally accredited programs.
All of AWARE’s services adhere to a “wrap around” philosophy of care, which means they are strength-based, family centered, and individualized for every customer, every time.
These 10 principles resulted from staff and consumer discussions at an AWARE Corporate Congress.
1. Building on Our Strengths Is the Key to Success.
Our services are individualized allowing each person and family to meet their goals. Our flexible approach helps individuals fulfill their hopes and dreams.
2. We Take On and Stick With the Hardest Challenges.
We do not give up on individuals and families. We use all of the resources available to them. When an individual or family fails, we fail.
3. We Are Agents of Change.
We teach new skills, support practices, provide therapeutic experiences, encourage competence and celebrate successes. We take responsibility for creating conditions that make change and learning possible.
4. Everything Is Normal Until Proven Otherwise.
We support individuals to help them experience everyday living and normal patterns of life. Normalization encourages independence, which leads to respect, and respect translates into acceptance, credibility, and status.
5. Families Are the Most Important Resource.
No one cares for or knows an individual better than his or her family. We use the abilities, talents, skills, and resources of families as part of any intervention and team process.
6. I’m OK, You’re OK.
Each individual and family has personal and cultural values that make them unique. When we celebrate and make use of these differences, we help individuals and families build on their basic strengths.
7. It Takes a Team.
We believe in and support a team approach. Family members are the most important team members, and their opinions, strengths, and needs should be the most valued. Other team members include AWARE staff and community resources.
8. Our Connection with Our Communities Is Vital.
We strive to be full partners with others in our team approach. We fulfill our role by helping our communities coordinate and develop services for the people we serve.
9. We Strive for the Highest Quality Care.
We do our best to be competent and responsive. We do our best to earn the trust of the individuals and families we serve and of the community.
10. Lighten Up and Laugh.
Although our work is serious and requires enormous commitment, we take time to find the joy in life, to laugh and have fun. This is one of the ways we help the people we serve to learn to enjoy their own lives.