Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean a permanent vacation, especially not for San Mar Children’s Home CEO Bruce Anderson.

“Time off — I’m not wired that way,” Anderson said. 

In 1985, he came to San Mar Children’s Home with a short-term plan.

“When they offered me a position, I told them I would stay for two years, and then I was gonna do something else,” Anderson said. 

Thirty-three years later.

“I’ve now fulfilled that two-year commitment,” Anderson said. 

Anderson said child services have changed immensely in the last several decades. 

During one of his cross country trips to see how other organizations are run, Anderson said he received memorable advice.

“‘You’re spending all your time filling ambulances filled with broken kids. Why don’t you take some of your resources and build a guard rail,” Anderson said. 

A few years ago, San Mar took that to heart by changing its model to breath hope into the entire family, not just the child.

“‘What if we were able to work with families in an effective manner, in a meaningful way before the child ever had to come out [to a group home],” Anderson said. 

Two years ago, San Mar began closing down its six group homes to redirect its movement and focus its energy into Bester Community of Hope, an initiative focused on prevention, and community service.

“We turned one of our group homes here on the campus into an outpatient mental health clinic, so we could now provide mental health services to the whole community,” Anderson said. 

Anderson said he’s been inspired by different national models, but he’s leaving career knowing he did what was best for the community.

“We’re doing the Hagerstown model,” Anderson said. 

Anderson is currently writing a book called Hope Breathers. The book will feature several stories of children who stayed at San Mar over the years.