Caring for people in the community with persistent and disabling mental illnesses presents a major challenge to government, planners and mental health professionals. The success with which mentally disabled people are integrated into community life says much about the society in which we live. This article describes the experience of the Greater Vancouver Mental Health Service Society in offering community-based mental health services to persons with schizophrenia and other major mental disorders over the past 20 years. The key to its success lies in a decentralized, relatively non hierarchical organizational structure which allows committed and skilled multidisciplinary teams to work with patients and their families in their community. The resulting services are fully integrated within the fabric of the community and are responsive to local needs. Partnerships among professionals, patients, families and community agencies result in work that is creative, productive and effective.