CHARG Resource Center Clinic and Offices 709 E. 12th Avenue Denver, CO 80203 303-830-8805 | CHARG Drop-In Center 920 Emerson Street Denver, CO 80218 303-830-2130


An innovative community established in 1989, Capitol Hill Action & Recreation Group (CHARG) serves adults with major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar illness, and major depression. It is a joint venture of people who believe that effective and lasting empowerment of persons with mental illness occurs when they can make decisions regarding their needs, and that they thrive with dependable and ongoing services.

The Capitol Hill Action & Recreation Group was begun by a Vista volunteer and mental health consumers, and founded as a 501(c)3 organization.

The Capitol Hill Action & Recreation Group coordinated social events in central Denver. It supported the Goebel lawsuit which eventually resulted in an expansion of treatment programs for Denver’s mentally ill residents. It was active as a volunteer organization, but with no paid staff and based at the Boardwalk Community at the Denver Center for Mental Health Services.

HEART of Boardwalk was begun by mental health professionals and supporters, and founded as a 501(c)3 organization. It sponsored a Clozaril study as one of the trial sites for the first of the newer-generation antipsychotic medications. HEART partnered with Capitol Hill Action & Recreation Group and CHARG Resource Center was formed. The Drop-in Center opened at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

An Executive Director (David Burgess) was hired and the Heartland Clinic opened at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, sharing space with the Drop-In Center.

The Program to Assist in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) began. The Drop-In Center became consumer run. The Heartland Clinic received state licensure and began billing services to Medicaid. The first annual conference  was held: “Sharing Power in the Mental Health Community.” The Coalition for Advancement of Rights in Treatment (CART) was founded: mental health consumers and concerned advocates influencing policy in the public mental health arena. The clinic building was purchased at 709 E. 12th Ave. with a grant from the Denver Junior League. The clinic building was renovated with a Denver Block Grant. The Heartland Clinic moved to its new home. Upstairs apartments of the clinic building became available for rent by mental health consumers as  Section 8 housing. CHARG participated at national conferences, sharing our experience with the partnership model:  The International Association of Psycho-Social Rehabilitation Services Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, and  The Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare Annual Conference in Denver. The Smart Mouths Dental Program began as an expansion of CHARG’s earlier efforts to assist mental health consumers in getting preventive and restorative dental care.

CHARG staff, board members, consumers and volunteers collaborated on an article about the CHARG partnership model, published by the Psychiatric Rehab Journal. The Executive Director gave talks about CHARG in China and Canada. A research study on CHARG’s effectiveness in promoting consumer empowerment was presented in Boston & DC conferences. CHARG  was featured on Denver’s Channel 4, and in a Denver Post article and editorial. The Speakers Bureau began. Colorado Access (Medicaid) agreed to a per diem per member rate. A strengths model & recovery markers were initiated. The clinic building underwent second renovation with Capital Campaign funds. CHARG celebrated its 20th Anniversary Gala. The first Starfish Music CD was released.


An Innovations Conference: PEERing Ahead was held.  The Drop-In Center was renovated with a Wolf Foundation Grant and subsequently renamed and dedicated to the memory of David Quarton. The second Starfish CD was released.  Colorado Access (Medicaid) agreed to per month per member rate. The clinic roster was expanded. CHARG celebrated its 25th Anniversary Year! CHARG was recognized by the American Psychiatric Association for “significant achievement in community psychiatry.” CHARG was recognized by Mental Health Colorado as “organization of the year.” After almost 30 years, David Burgess retired and was replaced by Todd Helvig as executive director.

“CHARG is a living embodiment of the principle postulated in the Alan Bates movie, King of Hearts. Inmates of the asylum take over and inhabit the town, only to make the world a superior place. The real beauty of CHARG is the living fact of giving people who have always been discounted and shuffled aside a chance to run their own lives, in most instances doing a better job than anyone dreamed possible.”  -Freddy Bosco
“CHARG is so much more than a lot of services. There is a real camaraderie here…and you’ve got to step back and have a sense of humor about a place run by people who are mentally ill.”  -Zim Olson
“In 1989, we founded CHARG Resource Center. In very large print on one wall, we had a quote which I believe expressed why we existed – what we hoped to achieve.  ‘We need to have people in our lives, people who mean something to us, knowing that being with them is coming home.’  I believe that is what happened. We found ‘home’ with each other. It is in the lives of these folks that came to CHARG that I found joy, honor, and the chance to love deeply as I shared their lives, their strengths, struggles, courage, hope, love, and humor.”  -Sr. Maureen Kottenstette
“An advantage of our model is the experience consumers gain in managing their own organization.   They learn about articles of incorporation & bylaws. They use rules of order to run meetings. They elect officers.  Perhaps even more important, the consumers learn about the challenges of being part of a group. When conflicts and controversy develop, they learn about ways to interrelate and resolve issues. They learn about themselves in the process.”  -Lynn Jones
“Building a truly equal partnership between professionals and those we serve has been tremendously rewarding.”  -David Burgess
Hear More (video: CHARG @ 25)  9:32 

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