The organization that would become Taos Behavioral Health began because of the vision of our founder, Vishu Magee. The spectacle of Taos young men in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs going off to jail whatever the level of their alleged crimes, motivated him to propose a Men Engaged in Nonviolence (MEN) program to the Community Against Violence agency (CAV) in 2002.
2004 – 2006
With little response to MEN before the Mustang murders in the summer of 2003, Magee worked alone in conversations with community members. The community’s response to the Mustang murders was that more police were needed. Magee disagreed. He was convinced that volunteerism and mentoring were more effective at preventing violence.
Magee expanded the MEN program and planned an official launch for September of 2004. In July and August of that year, a leadership group of 125 Taos men signed a nonviolence pledge and agreed to support the program. Donald Graham volunteered to record the effort in photographs, which formed the basis of an early media campaign (shown in the sidebar at the right).
Initial activities were held under the auspices of CAV and consisted of discussion/support groups for men and initial beginnings of a mentoring program. In 2006, Crispin Clarke was hired as the executive director and began to expand the mentorship program.
2007 – 2012
In December of 2007, the Men Engaged in Nonviolence (MEN®) organization was incorporated separately from CAV, with a staff of one and a small, all-male grassroots board. At that time, we served 20 mentees and six boys in a support group.
In 2010, we added Women in Nonviolence (WIN®) to reflect our expansion of women offering mentoring services to girls.
In 2011 we changed our name to Nonviolence Works to better reflect an agency that served men and women, families and youth. Mentoring youth was our largest program until we started the Gang Resistance is Positive (GRIP) in 2009. Both programs rely on positive collaboration with schools.
Years of Reorganization
The years 2011 and 2012 were devoted substantially to reorganizing for sustainability. In 2011, at the urging of the school officials, we began a therapeutic after-school program for elementary students called Familia y Mundo. We also supported the alternative program for high school students and then accepted the administration of The Nonviolence Center for middle school students. Our programs serving youth expanded into the summer with a Familia y Mundo summer camp and a Nonviolence Center outdoors program.
2015 – 2017
In the 2015-2016 school year, Nonviolence Works served over 380 students in GRIP, 120 youth in Familia y Mundo and the FyM summer camp, and 225 students in school-based counseling, as well as ongoing support to the Juvenile Detention Center. We also served adults and families — 20 families in the Supervised Visitation program, and more than 260 adults in a variety of group and individual counseling models.
When the 2016-17 school year began with a severe cut in counseling services for the schools, Nonviolence Works responded by placing clinicians in all the schools and working to identify funding for individual clients.
In November 2018, Nonviolence Works, Inc. renamed itself Taos Behavioral Health to better reflect its services to New Mexicans of all ages. (Here is the press release announcing our name change.) Our goal is to help individuals heal, grow and empower themselves through one-on-one, family, and group therapy.