2020 is Guild’s 30-year anniversary! Over our history, we’ve grown from a single residential facility that sprouted out of a need in the community to five different facilities, 21 service lines, and a staff of around 200.
Guild’s Origin Story
Guild’s history began in the 1970’s when Hasting State Hospital closed. Hastings State Hospital, which began in 1900, was the second original state mental health hospital in Minnesota. As community-based treatment was becoming more popular, the hospital closed, leaving long-term residents with a serious mental illness with nowhere to go.
Enter The Guild of Catholic Women (GCW), a volunteer organization. In 1964, the GCW opened a boarding house as a place for young Catholic women working in the city to live. By the 70’s, women’s roles in society were changing, and the desire to live in the boarding house was declining. So, in 1978, the GCW took in patients who had just been discharged from Hastings State Hospital.
The GCW began to hire staff who specialized in the mental health field. The first social worker hired was Grace Tangjerd-Schmitt, who became Guild’s first president.
In 1983, the GCW opened another residential mental health facility now known as Guild South, which provided short-term Intensive Residential Treatment Services. When it was created, it was the first residential mental health facility in Dakota County.
In 1990, to better serve the clients of Guild Hall and Guild South, the GCW established Guild Incorporated as a separate organization to deliver services to clients. From there, Guild began its 30-year and counting history of empowering people and empowering change in the Twin Cities community.
Away From Institutions and Towards Independent Living
In the mid-to-late eighties, mental healthcare was beginning to undergo a shift from inpatient (and sometimes involuntary) residential mental health care to community-based, flexible, and person-centered mental health care. This meant clients would have more choice in their care and could be more incorporated into their communities.
Guild, often at the forefront of innovations in service, began implementing the “housing-first” approach and started providing supportive housing services in 1993. The original Guild Hall closed, and staff helped clients move into their own independent living. Guild was one of the first organizations in the area to shift to a community-based model of delivering mental health care to clients with a serious mental illness, demonstrating there are effective alternatives to living in an institution long-term.
From there, Guild expanded into more community-based services. The Community Support Program Member Center opened in 1994, providing a space for clients to interact, attend groups and classes, and get help with socialization and living topics. Employment Services were launched to help individuals find jobs, and offer support along the way.
Expanding into Housing Services
In 2003, Guild began providing housing services to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Guild’s Delancey Services were formed with that same housing-first approach in mind–the idea that housing is a foundational aspect to health and that to address health, you must first address housing.
In 2009, Guild partnered with Project for Pride in Living to create Delancey Apartments; a 13-unit apartment building with supportive housing for those struggling to keep their housing. Delancey Apartments is unique because individuals can stay there for an unlimited amount of time, get help with employment and mental health, and are screened out rather than screened in. This means that getting individuals housed is the first priority.
From Guild Incorporated to Guild
In 2017, we welcomed our new Executive Director Julie Bluhm. In 2020, we rebranded and dropped “Incorporated” from our name and became just “Guild.” Even though we are Guild, you can find us on social media using @guildservices and you can find our website at www.guildservices.org. We tagged on “services” to our social media handles and website URLs so we could secure a unique username. But, no need to call us “Guild Services”–we go by Guild.
Now more than ever, Guild is equipped to meet the needs of communities across Minnesota. From a new partnership with Scott County where Guild is building the first-ever residential mental health treatment facility in Savage to expanding and refining our services, Guild is ready to help those in need.
As one of our clients so aptly put, “Because of Guild, my future is bright.” Well, we believe Guild’s future is brighter than ever. And, we can’t wait to help empower and engage more clients and communities to be their best.
Excited about the work we do? Check out our open positions.
Want to support our work? Learn about ways to donate.
Hastings State Hospital, Minnesota Historical Society.
Guild of Catholic Women, Minnesota Historical Society.
St. Paul-area Catholic Women’s Guild is Gone but Still Giving, Pioneer Press.
One History of Service: The Guild of Catholic Women and Guild Incorporated, Ramsey County History