Bill Hills founded Open Door Recovery Center in 1984 and operated it out of the basement of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for the first fifteen years of operation. Bill and his wife, Karin, sustained the Agency with great sacrifice and devotion during those early years.
In 1999 Bill moved Open Door into the new building where it continues to serve those who suffer from chemical dependency.
Bill’s legacy has allowed thousands of suffering addicts and their families begin the road to recovery. And his legacy remains with many of his dreams fulfilled by those who knew his foresight was based on understanding and compassion for those affected by the disease of addiction.
In December of 1978 Bill & Karin Hills, along with their three young daughters, set out from New York to explore the possibility of settling in Hancock County Maine.
They left in a car pulling a trailer with their belongings, two horses, and various other farm animals. The Hills family eventually found a home in Sullivan, Maine where Karin resides to this day.
Bill had been in recovery at that point since September of 1970. He had a true passion for helping other individuals find their way into recovery and took a position as an outpatient counselor with the Kelly 6 Program at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
Bill recognized the need for treatment in Hancock County and in 1984 was given enough seed money by a private donor to begin an outpatient program. He named the program Open Door Recovery Center and was given rental space in the basement of St. Joseph’s Church by Father Peter Gorham. Bill operated the program from the basement for fifteen years, providing quality treatment to those who suffer with the disease of addiction.
There came a point where funding was sparse. Bill believed in the program and had the support of his wife Karin to carry on with the mission. Karin sold valuable antiques handed down to her and applied the money to maintaining the program. There were many weeks when Bill would go home without a paycheck, while making sure the small staff received their weekly pay. The Hills Family as a whole had a part in the legacy of Open Door as the years passed. Sustaining the Program meant sacrifice of time and money on all fronts.
In 1999 Bill was able to have a small building constructed for Open Door at 8 Old Mill Road in Ellsworth, Maine. In the spring of 1999 Bill moved the program from the basement of the church to the new location. He was gratified beyond words for the new location. He had visions for the community such as collaborating with school systems to bring Open Door services to youth in need, bringing treatment into the jail for inmates, contracting with the hospital for detox consults, and expanding services for individuals and families in need of treatment.
Sadly, in the fall of 1999 Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer. After surgery in Boston and a month of hospitalization, Bill passed away on October 5, 1999.
Since his passing, the visions he intended to work on upon his return from Boston have been fulfilled.
Karin continues to be involved with Open Door and works two days each week in the front office. She brings a positive and loving energy with her and inspires all of us with her unrelenting commitment.
The Mission has grown since its inception in 1984 to include co-occurring therapy for addition and mental health disorders. Thus, thousands of individuals and families have been helped regardless of their ability to pay. Bill felt strongly about providing quality treatment for all and to this day Open Door continues to implement treatment with this philosophy. In 2014, Open Door included treatment for addiction and mental health disorders which enabled us to help clients in need of co-occurring treatments.