Our History

Providing crisis intervention services since 1971.

Who We Are & How We’ve Grown

Middle Way House incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 1971 to provide crisis intervention services to the people of Bloomington. For the next decade, the agency operated as a volunteer organization, responding to needs in the community as they arose.

In 1981, following the arrival of Planned Parenthood and the South Central Community Mental Health Center (now Centerstone) in Bloomington, Middle Way House refined its focus, selecting as its target population survivors of domestic violence and their children.

Today, Middle Way House provides meaningful alternatives to living with violence to hundreds of survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking each year. Further, Middle Way House touches the lives of thousands of community members annually through our educational outreach and prevention programs. We are guided by our vision to end domestic and sexual violence in the lives of all people.

50th Anniversary Timeline

The 1970s...


Middle Way House Founded

Founded as a grassroots organization that answered and operated 24/7 Crisis Hotline and Drop-In Center.

Became 501c3 Non Profit and Move to New House

Became a 501c3 nonprofit and operated as a general Crisis Center for the community. Focused on whatever was needed at the time to care for those in the community who needed help.

Also moved to permanent house at 717 E. 2nd Street.

Director and Staff

Sarah Cochran was the Director with small paid staff and volunteers. They ran the 24/7 Crisis Line and Walk-In Crisis Center along with Drug Rescue and a Venereal Disease Clinic.

Focus Redirected to General Crisis and New ED

The focus of the agency shifted to more general crisis services for the community. There were three paid staff with about 60 volunteers.

New Executive Director is Jeff Blumgarden.

Building and New Executive Director

Started applying for United Way monies.

SIHSA approves roughly $2,500 for Crisis Intervention services to work with the Title 20 monies.

Two New Executive Directors

In February, David Foster becomes Executive Director and helps continue the 24/7 Crisis Line and Walk-In Clinic, Drug Rescue (manned by paid staff only), and a Venereal Disease Clinc once a week.

David moves on. A new Executive Director is named and leaves within the year.

Title 20 Saves the Day

Karen Blicher takes the reins as Executive Director. An anonymous $5,000 donation in conjunction with new Title 20 grants allowed MWH to keep going and serving the community.

Moved to 518 E. 2nd Street.

General Emergency Shelter

MWH starts to offer General Emergency Housing. Gains more funding from County Commissioners, title 20, United Way, HUD, revenue sharing, and private donations.

The 1980s...


Mission Refocused

In a board meeting that could have closed MWH doors for good, it was decided that they would refocus their energy on helping women and chidren who were victims of domestic violence. Setting the course for the next 40 years.

Karen Blicher leaves MWH.

Expanded Services

Facilitated in-house peer support groups for women and children.

Grants allowed MWH to start the process to serve other countries.

Received $5,000 from the divorce filing fee statewide, as part of a statewide program giving to social services targeting domestic violence.

Support Groups

Began offering supports groups for Monroe County Women who were NOT in residence at the shelter.

Mary Wagner is Executive Director.

New Leadership

Pat Aungst takes over as Executive Director with five full and part time staff to manage Middle Way House and its many volunteers.

Strong Leadership and Intervention

Pat Aungst is Executive Director, Deborah Hamiltion is Shelter Director, and Ava McQueen is Business Manager.

Both male and female staff and volunteers answering the crisis line.

SIHSA approves roughly $2,500 for Crisis Intervention services to work with the Title 20 monies.

Children’s Programming and New Director

This was the year that our first children’s programming in house happened. It started with “a box of books and toys under a staircase.” This program was the start of many wonderful programs that now exist within Middle Way House.

Toby Strout started as the Executive Director with her three other full time staff and four part time employees. Around 30 weekly volunteers helped maintain MWH’s mission to serve and care for those escaping domestic violence.

Rape Center, Legal Advocacy, and Capitial Campaign

A collaboration with the city resulted in MWH taking responsibility for a new Rape Crisis Center in the county. Throughout the year around 200 calls and two overnight shelter victims of rape are handled in the fledging Rape Crisis Center.

Legal Advocacy took shape and came into existence as a new service.

Started partnership with Protective Order Project with law school.

MWH realized that their current site at 215 N. Rogers was entirely too small for their needs and so mounted a captital campaign to purchase new site for services.

Served roughly 40 Lawrence County Women throughout the year.

Interim Director and House Warming

MWH moved from its leased headquarters on Rogers Street to its new home that they purchased outright via the capital campaign and a bequest from a private individual. The big yellow housewould serve MWH for years to come.

Serving as both shelter and rape crisis center MWH goes public with its address and welcomes the public into its resource center and crisis center.

MWH also opened a community resource center to offer titles and information on abuse and recovery.

Kathleen Isaacs steps in as Interim Director for Toby Strout’s sabbatical.

The 1990s...


Domestic Violence Task Force, Resource Center & New CEO

A community effort to help coordinate peoples’ response to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The group of professionals wanted to provide good and consistent information to people.

MWH Turns 20!

Despite the changes over the years MWH kept much of its original message in tact since 1971. "Staff and volunteers are required to be respectful and non-judgemental; they are trained to respond to clients’ needs and wants as they define them, not to tell them how to live; they provide information and support so that clients can determine for themselves how and if they will make changes in their lives; they focus on the fact that our clients have survived, not that they have been victims."

On-Scence Advocates, Expanding Counties, No Limit on Time

On-scence Advocacy (OSA) program began. This program matches volunteers with officers who are supporting survivors in the field.

Greene County support group programming began.

Suspended the time limit on stays for women who were victims.

Expanding preschool program.


Establishment of office in Martin Country. This along with Greene County offered services to those who could not get to Bloomington, providing Crisis Intervention and legal advocacy for victims.

Purchased property on Washington Street for what would become the transitional housing known as The RISE!

More Expansion

Opened offices in Lawrence, Owen Counties making MWH a presence in five counties offering services to those in need.

Ground broken for the trasitional housing project.

Purchased home that was moved to 12th street and became part of the transitional housing project to help families become more self sufficient.

Groundbreaking and New House

Broke Ground on The RISE!

Bought the house on 12th street it was moved from another location to a lot we purchased to be a transitional housing location for survivors.

Family Support Center started for women who needed money management help, had credit issues, had legal and tenancy issues or concerns about childcar arising from difficulties from being a survivor.

We see the national terms moving from victim to survivor.

Confidential Document Destruction & Community Endeavors

Started a Family Support Center for women who needed money management help, had credit issues, had legal & tenancy issues or concerns about childcare arising from difficulties of being a survivor.

Became involved with the creation of The Housing Network and became a Community Housing Development Organization.

Established for profit subsidiary that owned and operated for the survivors. This allowed them a living wage in a safe environment. (Confidential Document Desctruction).

Open Shelter

MWH becomes an OPEN shelter publishing for the first time our address for public access.

Prevention Program for high schools wins Governor’s Examplary Project Award from Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

Joins with others to start Microloan office, where small businesses can apply for loans.

Expanding In All Ways

The RISE! officially opens March 11 with its first families moving in the following weekend. This gives MWH 28 units of low income apartments for survivors and their children.

Launched licensed daycare to children of families who live in our Transitional Housing and Emergency Shelter programs.

The 2000s...

2003 - 2005

A New Millenium Yes! And Expansion

Youth Empowered Services program started for intervening in the cycle of violence that affects children between 3-18 who are or have lived in our shelter, or transitional housing.

We also opened an office in Martin County.

Provided Prevention & Sexual Assault Awareness Training to Bloomington High School South, Bloomington High School North, Aurora Alternative, Harmony, Edgewood, Owen Valley and Brown County High Schools.

Awarded “Program of the Year” for our self-sufficiency program called “We Win” by the Indiana Association for Economic Development in Indianapolis.

Takes over administration of the Bloomington Area Microenterprise Initiative.

Expansion and Sharing TV

Opened office in Morgan County.

Middle Way House celebrates 30 years in existence!

“Breaking the Silence” aired, which featured four survivors who utilized Middle Way House’s services.

Expansion and Awards

Food Works opens and serves meals and snacks to 45 children in daycare setting Run from the kitchen at the Children’s Village this is a huge step in self sufficiency for survivors looking to work and get on their feet.

Awarded Innovative Business Award from Indiana Inside Business with Gerry Dick (TV Show).

Free Voicemail box program from Verizon “Hopeline” starts for survivors to hav a safe number for messages to get to them.

New Buildings and Awards

Economic Development Program receives Achievement Award for Innovation for starting Confidential Document Destruction and Food Works.

1st Middle Way House Art show held.

Closed Morgan County office as they started their own shelter, but still support survivors from Morgan County as needed.

MWH purchased old Coke building for future operations and CDD begins operating out of new “old Coke building.”

Awarded Social Entrepreneur of the Year (MWH) by Small Business Development Centers FUSE Business Innovation Awards.