A History of the Better Living Center

A History of the Better Living Center


This year, we celebrate more than a decade of our Better Living Center (BLC), having opened in 2011 to provide direct clinical services to Fortune participants in need of rehabilitative support and mental health care. 

Since 1967, Fortune has made it a part of our mission to prioritize rehabilitative care. We envision a world where mental health needs are not a barrier to reentry for people. As a result, the BLC provides licensed behavioral health treatment for adults. Most importantly, each participant receives person-centered care to address their unique and complex mental health needs by promoting behavioral strategies to cope with stressors of daily life and managing anger, anxiety and depression.  

The nationwide deinstitutionalization in the early 1970s led to the rapid closing of mental health institutions, leaving many patients without access to long-term care.   

“They dumped people with mental health needs on the street,” Fortune Founder David Rothenberg said. “There were no places for them to go except to places like Fortune.”

We needed to respond thoughtfully to this growing issue. Something needed to be created at Fortune to serve the growing need.  

In 1992, our Substance Use Treatment program was created, empowering individuals with substance use histories and trauma from incarceration to heal and recover. 

In 2008, we conducted focus groups with participants and staff about the need for mental health services. It became clear that culturally competent mental health services were needed. Many of our participants were in need of mental health support. 

Over the next few years, grants secured allowed for the full development of programming before BLC opened up in July 2011. 

The BLC offers both one-on-one sessions with our team of counselors, as well as structured group sessions.

During intake, new participants receive a standardized psychosocial assessment, psychiatric evaluation and medical assessment. From there, they are referred to other Fortune programming to meet their additional needs. 

“I was able to communicate with all the people involved — my therapist, my psychiatrist. They understood me, and I understood them,” said Eugene, who was referred to BLC shortly after coming to Fortune. Therapy helped him reconcile his past trauma and identify new ways to reframe his current state of mind. With the help of BLC staff, Eugene learned about helpful medications and began to practice mindfulness. “They gave me diagnoses, advice, and we talked. We kept the dialogue going.” 

We offer a variety of evidence-based groups to help participants build coping skills, maintain sobriety and engage in positive social interactions. 

“There’s that comfort level that you feel when you can share with people that know you very well and know what you’re dealing with,” said Gerard, a participant in group counseling. “I get feedback from them on things, and I try to help them as much as I can.” 

Individuals are also able to receive medication management and referrals to career development, educational services and other services specific to their needs. 

We remain consistent in our efforts to allow those returning home to live happy and prosperous lives, allowing not only individuals to grow and succeed, but allowing our communities to thrive as well. 

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