In March, 1983, the Atchison Samaritan Counseling Center was founded by Janelle Maes, a Benedictine Sister, pastoral counselor, and licensed marriage & family therapist. It began as an ecumenical endeavor with Sister Janelle and local pastor, John Muncy, working together. Both recognized the tremendous need for quality counseling services in Atchison that would be affordable for all people. The Atchison Ministerial Alliance, a group of ministers serving the local area, endorsed the ministry of the center. In the early years, the center operated humbly in rent-free space donated by Atchison Hospital and Sister Janelle worked without a salary. In 1988, the center’s name was changed to All Faith Counseling Center. [This name remains today to reflect that people of all faiths (or of no particular belief system) are welcome here, and if a person desires to address any spiritual components in the services they seek, we are comfortable with this.]
Over the years, the support from the civic community has grown along with the outstanding reputation of the center. Grants from foundations, support from congregations, corporate gifts, individual donations, client fees, and insurance payments have allowed the center to continue. Two additional licensed counselors joined the staff after 2000.
Sister Janelle retired at the end of May, 2008 after 25 years of service as the founder/director and counselor of the center. At a reception honoring her, she recalled, “When we started the counseling center, my main thrust was to help young couples who were having trouble, to work with families and help those marriages that were crumbling.” In addition to the clinical help people could receive, Sister Janelle insisted the office be comfortable and welcoming to people.