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A History Snapshot

Serving Montana for more than 40 years


  • In 1974, AWARE was formed by a small group of parents sitting around a kitchen table discussing opportunities and possibilities for their children with special needs. Their discussion led to the opening of a small furniture refinishing business where people with developmental disabilities could learn a trade and make a valuable contribution to the community. Our name – AWARE (previously Anaconda Work and Residential Enterprises) – reflects our original mission in 1976 when we became incorporated, and it continues to do so as we have evolved over time.

  • AWARE Inc. became incorporated to carry out its mission of serving people with disabilities.

  • AWARE opened its doors to deinstitutionalization, adding its first group home to provide services primarily to people coming from Montana Developmental Center.

  • AWARE received its first CARF accreditation for developmental disabilities (DD) services in 1980.

  • AWARE added transportation services, so consumers could get to and from work. It also served as a paratransit program for people with disabilities and the elderly in Butte.

  • AWARE added its first intensive group homes for youth in Anaconda and Butte.

  • AWARE expanded its group homes throughout Montana and operated a home in New Mexico for a short period.

  • AWARE added adult developmental disability case management services in Big Horn and Carbon counties.

  • AWARE added community support services for youth and children including youth case management, outpatient therapy, therapeutic foster care, transitional living and CSCT services.

  • AWARE opened a recycling program in Anaconda to provide clients job opportunities.

  • AWARE began providing telepsychiatry.

  • AWARE opened the Child Advocacy Center in Helena.


  • AWARE developed an internal training program called HELP with a state-accredited manual.

  • AWARE opened the Galen campus.


  • AWARE began accepting kids into the Galen program who would be served out of state.

  • AWARE began Early Childhood Services.

  • AWARE began mental health case management.


  • AWARE became a qualified provider for developmental disability services for children.

  • AWARE began delivering intensive family education and support services to children and adolescents with developmental disabilities in Western Montana.

  • AWARE developed the Montana Home Choice Coalition.


  • AWARE acquired REM and opened residential, work/day and transportation services in Billings.


  • AWARE expanded the recycling program into Butte, which laid the groundwork for the AWARE Business Network: Bloom (2011), Growth thru Art and KANA (2012), and Cold Mountain Pottery (2013).


  • AWARE was awarded the contract to continue deinstitutionalization efforts.


  • AWARE developed the first residential autism services in Montana.


  • AWARE transferred the Galen program to what is now known as the Lawrence P. Noonan Center for Excellence and opened the doors to the group homes on Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • AWARE formed The Arc Montana to promote for the inclusion and advocacy of people with disabilities.


  • AWARE acquired Great Falls YMCA Supported Living Program and continued to build upon our supported living services across the state.


  • AWARE opened the newly built Center for Excellence for its first day of school.


  • AWARE opened five group homes in Great Falls and Butte to serve some of the remaining individuals at Montana Developmental Center.


  • AWARE awarded statewide contract for targeted case management.

  • AWARE opens Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) program in Helena.

  • AWARE hires Matt Bugni as AWARE CEO.


  • COVID-19 pandemic causes worldwide shutdown. AWARE adapted and continued offering services despite the challenges. 

  • AWARE opens new Early Head Start classroom in Billings.

  • AWARE opens Polk Home in Anaconda to support people with intense behavioral needs.

  • AWARE celebrates 45 years of service.

  • AWARE receives SDMI case management contract.

  • AWARE hires Francine Cooper as new CFO.

  • Long-time AWARE CFO Geri Wyant retires.

  • AWARE awarded $4.5 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant to support the implementation of its Family Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) program.

  • FACT services launch across the state.

  • AWARE receives grant for Mulit-Dimensional Family Therapy.

  • AWARE holds first annual AWARE Day throughout Montana.

  • AWARE brings back Charity Golf Scramble after two-year break.

  • AWARE holds first Clinical Leadership Summit in Helena.

  • AWARE’s Center for Excellence transitions to a private school and becomes a candidate for accreditation through Cognia.

  • AWARE receives three-year CARF accreditation.

  • AWARE receives $457,000 Telehealth grant from the FCC. 

  • AWARE begins offering therapeutic recreation services across the state

  • AWARE Early Head Start in Butte celebrates 25 years.

  • Medical Director Dr. John Tupper retires after 15 years service.

  • AWARE hires new medical director, Dr. Kathryn Brogan.

  • AWARE’s Center for Excellence achieves official accreditation through Cognia.

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