PORTLAND, Maine — When the Small Business Administration in Maine announced the winners of their 2019 awards, Alternative Wellness Services (AWS) was on the list.

The behavioral health agency has served over 1,000 clients since 2014, who have severe and persistent mental illnesses. Many are homeless and struggling with addiction, but Amber Elliott started AWS five years ago because she cares.

"Live the life they want to live, that's our ultimate goal," Elliott said.

AWS currently serves around 300 clients, including Richard Bey. He's in the Recovery Maine program and working to secure permanent housing with the help of AWS. Making a comeback from his struggle with addiction and homelessness. 

"I can't imagine where I'd be at. I mean at this point in my life I'm in the best place I can be, hooked up with some really good people," Bey said.

AWS is expanding its services to provide help to those losing their vision. Something that Elliott can relate to. She started to lose her vision when she was 11-years-old.

"I'm also legally blind so I have Juvenile Muscular Degeneration, so it distorts how I see and it has impacted even employment opportunities, so having a visual impairment has helped me work really hard," Elliott said.

She has a lot to be proud of and the list keeps growing. This year Alternative Wellness Services received a small business award from the Small Business Association in Maine. Recognition for the work they do to help those who sometimes don't realize they need a helping hand, but often find themselves better off for it. 

"It's a really good program," Bey said.

AWS is also expanding services to Maine's veterans with their veterans community support program. They want to support them in securing the services they need to live the life they desire to have. Serving those who have served us.