Why Are We Here? Who Was Ben Gordon?

Over 45 years ago a vision of mental health recovery was launched across the country. The Mental Health Act of 1963 allowed counties just like ours access to affordable and quality mental health services. Ben Gordon, a local businessman who owned and operated Gordon Hardware with his brother, Max, knew first hand the need for mental health services in our community.

Gordon Hardware was located on East Lincoln Highway where it still stands today, but in the 1960’s the train was very active from Chicago to DeKalb. In addition to local residents, many individuals from Chicago and the surrounding communities would wander into Gordon Hardware. Some in need of more than a hammer or some penny nails. Ben would realize that they had a mental illness, offer them a kind word, cup of coffee or a sandwich and try to find them the help or services they needed.

He was instrumental in securing funding through the creation of the DeKalb County Community Mental Health Board and recruiting the first mental health professionals for DeKalb County. In July, 1968, the DeKalb County Mental Health Clinic commenced operation. Five years later, the Clinic evolved into a private, not-for-profit corporation known as the Ben Gordon Community Mental Health Center, Inc. Our first services were provided out of rented houses in the community. Even then the need was growing and new facilities were essential to meet the demand.

Help us continue to meet the demand at the Call for Help Telethon on Friday, May 30 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.