On July 1, 2018 Open Sky Community Services was born through the affiliation of two of Central Massachusetts’ premier human service organizations: Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. and The Bridge of Central Massachusetts. We look forward to a long and successful history of our own, but want to honor the history that each of the two storied agencies brought with them to this new and exciting venture.
The History of Alternatives
The history of Alternatives encompasses more than 40 years of Building Stronger, More Inclusive Communities.
In 1976, Alternatives was a three-program agency with 15 employees serving 26 people. At the time of the agency's affiliation with The Bridge, it operated 60 different programs with a $40 million dollar annual budget. On any given day, the organization served about 1,500 individuals with disabilities.
From the agency's founding in Uxbridge, it evolved into a major provider of services throughout the Blackstone Valley as well as the Greater Worcester, Greater Milford, Fitchburg/Leominster, and Wrentham/Plainville areas.
Many Alternatives staff members were with the organization since its early years, facing the challenges of growth with an unwavering commitment to people served. A point of pride for Alternatives was the agency's record of integrating people with disabilities into the community by giving them the skills and support needed to achieve success.
The History of The Bridge
In 1973, The Bridge opened a group home on Grove Street in Westborough to provide a "bridge" to the community for boys leaving the Lyman School. This residential program was established and operated by a group of Westborough citizens.
At the same time, another group of concerned clinicians had established an afterschool program for adolescent patients at Worcester State Hospital. This group became known as Community Treatment Center (CTC) and was led by Barry Walsh, Ph.D., among others.
In 1997, CTC and The Bridge merged to become The Bridge of Central Massachusetts. In 2003, the Bridge moved its headquarters to Worcester's Tatnuck Neighborhood. By 2018, The Bridge had over 50 programs in 17 communities throughout Central Mass, Metro-West and Boston.