In the early 1970s, the state government deinstitutionalized the mental hospitals and hundreds of adults with mental disabilities were released into local communities. With no mental health services in place, the communities were faced with the responsibility of caring for these individuals in alternative settings. Board & care homes and mental health agencies were established to meet the needs of the growing mental health population of Santa Clara County. These facilities were not adequately funded or appropriately equipped to provide the necessary therapeutic, rehabilitative, recreational, and social services.
A cooperative effort between the City of San Jose’s Therapeutic Recreation Services and Santa Clara County’s Department of Social Services led to the establishment of Grace Community Center in 1971. The Center offered the first therapeutic recreation and rehabilitative program of its kind in the County. In the early 1980s the Center was faced with a dwindling budget and an increased demand for services. These cuts threatened the essential services it provided. The Friends of Grace Community Center was founded in 1981 to ensure the continuation of these services, through fundraising. The Friends of Grace is dedicated to increasing public awareness and advocating on behalf of the participants of Grace Community Center, as well as continuing the effort to generate supplemental financial support for the Center.