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Our Story

Four Decades of Dignity, Respect & Empowerment

1977: The Mission Begins

A group of addiction professionals launched the Middlesex Regional Alcoholism Treatment Center (MRATC).  With offices in Watertown and Waltham, MRATC was a drug and alcohol detoxification program that also provided Short Term Intensive Inpatient Treatment (STIIT) and Transitional Care for nearly two decades.

1984-1989: The Inception of MHSA and New Program

G. Peter Donovan became the MRATC’s Executive Director.  Mr. Donovan would remain the company’s chief executive for thirty years. Throughout the 1980s, MRATC expanded services to provide emergency shelter and nutrition to populations in need, thus acquiring Mary’s House family shelter, Bristol Lodge Men’s and Women’s shelters and Soup Kitchen, and Meadowhouse Youth Shelter, all in Waltham.  With the addition of the new services, MRATC was re-branded as Middlesex Human Service Agency, Inc. (MHSA).

Rearview shot of two young businessmen walking through the city together
Young woman looking through window at home

1990-2009: Paving Pathways to Recovery throughout Greater Boston

Project Outreach (an adolescent substance use disorder program) opened, followed by the acquisition of two substance use disorder recovery homes; Answer House, South Boston and Sullivan House, Jamaica Plain. MHSA also acquired DUIL (Driving Under the Influence of Liquor).  DUIL has become the Commonwealth’s only residential education and treatment program for repeat-OUI offenders.  This was followed by the opening of four large shelters for homeless families, Sandra’s Lodge, Hestia House, Olivia’s Place, and Warren Hall.

2009-2014: Expansion of Services in Boston

MHSA’s Scattered Site program became an important support system in the City of Boston and the Commonwealth’s Emergency Assistance shelter network. In 2013, MHSA underwent its largest program expansion with the opening of the Congregate program.  MHSA opened nine congregate shelter locations throughout Boston. MHSA’s Dudley Street office in Dorchester experienced exponential growth with a 400% increase in program staffing to support the Congregate program.  The Scattered Site and Congregate programs have become one of the largest programs in the state serving families experiencing homelessness.

2015-Present: A New Chapter with an Enduring Mission

After 30 years of service, Mr. Donovan retired as CEO and Robert Mills was appointed the new chief executive. An employee of MHSA since 1993, Mr. Mills has forged new pathways towards success – particularly in the arena of client services.  Supported by a talented administrative team, seasoned board of directors and over 200 dedicated employees, Mr. Mills has ushered in a new era of leadership while emphasizing a practical, sustainable and pro-client approach to servicing clients in need. MHSA’s service offerings continued to expand with the addition of a monthly Mobile Market providing free food (in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank), a weekly food pantry, the acquisition of a third recovery home, Hurley House, Waltham, and the opening of Brookford House, Dorchester, serving families experiencing homelessness and parental substance use disorders recovery.

Portrait of a happy father giving his little boy a piggyback ride in their backyard