Our History, Our Future!

The five families who founded Independence Association couldn't have imagined that the tiny educational center they created for their disabled children in 1966 would grow to be such a large and integral part of Mid Coast Maine.

Today, Independence Association employs almost 250 people who serve over 400 individuals with disabilities in five counties. Its predecessor organization was started by just five families who wanted more for their children than they could get from the systems that existed at the time.

Charles Payne Jr., Frances Payne, James Diemer, Doris Diemer, Gerard Philippon, Gloria Michaud, and Anne Donovan signed Articles of Incorporation on September 14, 1966, for what was then called the Youth Development Center (YDC) for Retarded Children, Inc. Its early activities focused on providing quality learning activities for children with intellectual disabilities.


1977: The YDC opens its first residence, Independence House, in Freeport to provide a place where these growing-into-adults kids could live.
1978: Two YDC students become the first youth with intellectual disabilities to earn diplomas from Brunswick High School.
1978: The renowned, arts-based Spindleworks program welcomes its first artist-members.
1979: A broad-based adult day program, now called EnvisionME, opens its doors.
1979: Name change signals new service growth into adult populations: The Youth Development Center for Retarded Children becomes The Independence Association for Retarded Citizens.
1980: Community Living and Employment Services programs begin to assist disabled adults learning to live on their own.
1992: Name change highlights our mission: Independence Association, Inc.
1998: Independence Association develops its Children’s In-Home Support Program.
2000: Targeted Case Management allows trained staff to guide clients through a wide range of agency and community resources.
2006: Independence Association plays a pivotal role in the elimination of State Institutions by assuming the responsibility to deinstitutionalize the Freeport Town Square residence operated by Maine DHHS. As a result, Independence Association opens four new group homes in greater Brunswick.
2011: The successful Spindleworks program is replicated in Hallowell, Maine as Spinoff Studio. The popular studio rapidly expanded and has since relocated to Gardiner.
Today: More than 400 adults and youth with disability receive the service and supports they deserve via Community Supports programs; 15 residential group homes; Adult and Children’s Case Management; Vocational Rehabilitation; Community and Shared Living; In-Home Supports; Psychological Consultation; and Behavior Analysis.