The Luella Cummings Home, which also operated as a school, was initially organized as The Girls Protection Agency in May 1913. The agency was largely founded under the leadership and inspiration of Mrs. Luella (Harry) Cummings, first president of the Board of Trustees, for whom it was renamed following her death in 1914. Its purpose was to give dependent, neglected, and underprivileged girls a proper home life and suitable educational and vocational training. Providing academic and domestic science training, the school was accredited by Toledo Public Schools, which also furnished teaching staff to the organization. Some residents of the School attended local high schools or were out-placed in employment internships, mostly in childcare and domestic service.
From its inception, the organization reflected a strong de-institutional emphasis, part of reformers’ broad-based criticism of earlier asylums and orphanages which failed to take into account persons’ individual differences. The formation of the Luella Cummings School coincides with the development of the Juvenile Court in Toledo, the societal defining of adolescence, and a growing public concern with the urban poverty’s effects upon children and youth. Its evolution likewise reflects trends and policies in the fields of child welfare and social work. The organization was formed with the example of other Progressive-era settlements in mind (particularly Chicago’s Coulter House), and soon developed its own unique programs, character and reputation.
Early on, girls were referred to the school by the Child Welfare League and the Juvenile Court. Later, referrals often came from families, other social service agencies, and local schools. In its first year the agency functioned as a basic rescue home, taking females as old as twenty-five for short-term assistance; however, this policy soon changed to a focus on younger girls, usually fourteen to eighteen, for stays averaging several years. The School, with an initial staff of three, soon expanded with bequests and donations from individuals, churches, and assistance from the Toledo Community Chest (the forerunner to the modern United Way). The school’s curriculum expanded over time and later came to include college preparatory courses. A summer camp, begun in 1918, became an important part of the organization’s programs. Its central location became Camp Miniger at Somerset, Michigan, donated by board member Mrs. George Miniger-Jones. In the mid-1960s, girls from the School began to run the camp under a Counselor-In-Training Program.
During its history the organization has had several locations, the first being a leased·house on Cherry Street. Mr. Harry Cummings soon purchased a residence at 141 22nd Street to which the School, needing space to house more girls, later added the adjoining home and lot. A new structure was erected on the property through the Works Progress Administration in 1934. The organization’s most recent location at 123 22nd Street, the result of a fundraising campaign, was completed in 1958.
In 1981 the Luella Cummings School merged with the Ralph E. Zucker Center. The Zucker Center had operated as a diagnostic facility serving mentally handicapped children and adults, offering diagnostic and psychological testing for families. In schools the Zucker Center provided infant stimulation, early education, and comprehensive counseling expertise. The Cummings-Zucker merger created a comprehensive agency well-suited to serve the diverse mental health needs of families and children.
In addition, the Mental Hygiene Clinic (MHC) had been in operation since 1941 as the first outpatient mental health facility in Northwest Ohio. Developed to do psychiatric assessments for kids who were having problems at school, the organization operated on a regional level. In the early 1970s, the MHC moved from downtown Toledo to the Westgate area, changed its name to Community Mental Health Center West (CMHCW), and assumed responsibility for serving western Lucas County’s mental health needs.· The CMHCW was the first agency to receive a funding contract from the newly created Lucas County Mental Health Board. In 1985 the organization shortened its name to the West Center. With a focus on adults and families, the West Center offered a day treatment program, health assessments, forensic services, domestic violence treatment services, psychiatric evaluations, psychological testing, employee assistance programs, COMPEER, residential services, as well as individual and group therapy.
Harbor Behavioral Healthcare was formed in 1995, by the merger of Cummings-Zucker and the West Center. The merger represented a commitment by both boards of directors to create a high-quality, comprehensive social service organization capable of meeting the challenges of rapid changes occurring in behavioral health care.
The Harbor Foundation, also formed in 1995, served to support the programs and services of Harbor.· The Foundation was then combined with Harbor in November of 2009.
While many antiquated terms such “Mental Hygiene” are no longer used, the values, energy, and vision of our predecessors still live on. Our passion and commitment to health and wellness promotion for people and organizations is supported by a distinguished history of service to this community - then, now, and far into the future.