Founded in 1988, Mary’s Center is a Community Health Center that provides services to nearly 50,000 individuals from all parts of the DC metro region; these individuals represent nearly 50 countries. Since our doors opened, Mary’s Center has grown from a small basement clinic that served 200 women a year to a robust Community Health Center.
In 1988, Maria Gomez, President and CEO of Mary’s Center, was working as a nurse at the District of Columbia's Department of Health. There, she witnessed a large increase in the number of Latin American immigrants migrating to the United States to escape war, poverty, and death. Many of the women had been raped or experienced other trauma in their journeys north. Once in the United States, they often went without prenatal care because they had nowhere to go. Mary's Center was founded by a group of health activists to help meet the needs of mothers. Created with funding from the D.C. Mayor's Office on Latino Affairs (OLA) and the D.C. Department of Health, Mary's Center started delivering bilingual health services to pregnant women and their infants residing in Ward 1.
Since our founding, our array of services and our constituency have broadened significantly since our inception. Using a holistic social change model, we provide comprehensive healthcare, workforce development, education and social services to under-resourced individuals in the D.C. metropolitan region as well as to newcomers from almost 50 countries.
Between 1988 and 2018 our staff size grew from 10 to over 600 and our annual operating budget from $250,000 to over $61 million. In early 2009, a month after President Obama’s inauguration, Mary's Center was privileged to host First Lady Michelle Obama on her first D.C. community visit. Her empathy and sincerity left a permanent impression on the teens, children, and staff who interacted with her. It is no coincidence that all the graduates of our Teen Program present that day are now attending college. In February 2013, Mary’s Center president and CEO, Maria Gomez, was selected by President Obama as one of the 18 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian award granted by the White House.
Mary's Center now provides comprehensive services at five medical locations, two senior wellness center, one program office and one dental cruiser in D.C. and Maryland.
Our success in improving lives and strengthening communities, one family at a time, has fostered important partnerships and earned us many awards. Mary’s Center received the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) 2018 and 2017 Health Center Quality Leader Award for being one of the top health centers in the country with the best overall clinical performance among 1,400 community health centers. HRSA measures the performance of each community health center through the reporting data collected on the patients served and their outcomes. This award recognizes our staff’s dedication to providing our participants with the highest quality of care.
In 2017, Mary’s Center received the Montgomery County Police Department Certificate of Appreciation for assistance provided to victims of the fatal Silver Spring apartment fire in August 2016. Additionally, Mary’s Center was one of ten organizations featured in the Hero Effect documentary presented by the United Way Worldwide. The documentary series celebrates “everyday heroes that facilitate beneficial, life-changing impact on the people around them.” The episode featuring Mary’s Center aired nationally on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Saturday, February 11, 2017.
Mary’s Center also received the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s Honorable Mention Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. In 2016, Mary’s Center was recognized as a The Washington Post “Best Places to Work”. We also received the Great Nonprofits 2016 and 2017 Top Rated Nonprofit award. In 2016 Mary's Center was also awarded a 4-star rating, the highest possible, for the fifth straight year by Charity Navigator. Our nursing team received CipherHealth’s Outstanding Patient Care Award. Additionally, we received Bisnow’s “Trending 40” Innovators award. Our CEO Maria Gomez received the DC Dental Society’s 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award.