The history of the Growth Opportunity Center (GOC) is a unique story of how vision, leadership and teamwork turned a church-sponsored outreach effort into a thriving mental health center committed to serving the needs of children, adolescents, adults, families and organizations in the community.
GOC was established in October 1974 in response to an idea by Dr. Ernest Schmidt, the Senior Pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, to better serve community mental health needs. Pastor Schmidt approached Kenneth Barber, a lifelong Huntingdon Valley resident and church member who had a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Temple University. Under the leadership of Dr. Barber, the center became a reality.
The name of this new counseling service evolved from two sources. Dr. Barber is a strong believer in the importance and the possibility of “growth” in individuals and families. This belief was combined with the spirit at Gloria Dei Church which views hardships and suffering more as “opportunities” than problems. Dr. Barber recognized that the goal of the center would be to help develop self-awareness and thus the opportunity for growth within an individual and the family. With these aligned visions, the name Growth Opportunity Center was appropriately adopted.
In 1985, Saul Fisher, Ph.D., who had joined the GOC team in 1975, was named GOC Clinical Director and responsible for program development and coordinating educational outreach. Dr. Fisher continues to serve the center to this day.
GOC initially offered basic mental health services that included individual therapy for all ages, group therapy helping people relate to one another, marital counseling for couples in conflict or moving apart in their relationship, family therapy to solve mutual problems, and psychological testing to identify abilities and interests as well as to uncover emotional problems.
For the first year, Dr. Barber and a team of five clinicians provided these services to almost 500 individuals and families in a counseling office carved out of the church’s nursery area. The Center now has a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of more than 70 clinicians, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and organizational consultants.
Since its inception in 1974, GOC has served over 35,000 individuals. Today, GOC provides support for emotional, behavioral, educational and relationship difficulties to adults, children and families, at the rate of approximately 1300 individuals and families per month. Through a series of moves to larger quarters as needed to better accommodate the growing center, GOC’s main, handicapped accessible office is now located in Southampton with a satellite office in Narberth. With education and outreach always a central part of the GOC mission, the Center continues to expand its behavioral health and organizational consultation services to schools, colleges, churches, healthcare institutions, and business organizations throughout the region. As a non-profit organization with a commitment to service, GOC’s outreach program includes identifying specific community needs in areas in which individuals have been underserved.
Making a Donation
The Growth Opportunity Center is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations to GOC are used to help continue and expand programs and services, hire additional staff, spread GOC service locations, and purchase appropriate technology. Funds are also used to assist clients who are experiencing financial difficulties and unable to pay for services and programs; a sliding fee schedule is used. Furthermore, contributions honor the profound impact that the GOC has had in the community during the past 40 years. Contributions to the center are tax deductible as determined by the extent of the law.
Methods of Support
There are many methods used to support the GOC. These include: direct gifts of cash/check; donations in memory or in honor of a loved one or friend; named beneficiary of wills, trusts, securities or life insurance. To make a donation, please make check payable to: Growth Opportunity Center, and mail to Mr. Michael Goldberg, Financial Director, (link to Michael’s profile in Administrative Team Section) c/o GOC, 928 Jaymor Road, B-150, Southampton, PA 18966. You may designate how the donation will be used. If you wish to discuss your donation, please contact Mr. Goldberg at 215-947-8654 ext. 282 or email him at gocenterMG@aol.com.
Recognition of Donors
Donors in any given year will be featured on our web site. Donors are listed according to the level of giving outlined at the site. Please consider a gift to GOC. We extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to all contributors, corporations, foundations, and trusts who include GOC in their annual giving.