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Stepping Stones gets $2 million for Joliet recovery house

Treatment center plans eight-unit apartment building for women with children

Stepping Stones Treatment Center on Saturday received the $2 million federal grant that provided most of the money needed to build apartments for women recovering from drug and alcohol problems.

Advocates for the project said the housing, which also would accommodate children, was needed for women so they can continue recovery without losing their children.

“Treatment and recovery is not the same for women as it is for a man,” said Marge Garay, clinical director at Stepping Stones. “And, treatment is not the same for women with children as it is for a man.”

Garay was on a panel of speakers discussing the need for the future recovery housing before a check presentation ceremony.

She said women as primary care givers for children typically faced a choice between continuing treatment for substance issues or being separated from their children.

Noting the case of one Stepping Stones client who gave up treatment to avoid losing her children, Garay said, “She died of an overdose in one week.”

Stepping Stones needs about $900,000 more to build the recovery housing at its complex located near the corner of Plainfield Road and Theodore Street, said Stepping Stones Executive Director Paul Lauridsen.

The plan is to build an eight-unit building, which would include two-bedroom apartments. Seven of the apartments would be for women and their children, and the eighth would be for a house manager and assistant house manager.

Stepping Stones now has residences for clients receiving treatments. The new apartments would provide housing for clients in longer term recovery, while also accommodating women with children.

Lauridsen said residents would be Stepping Stones clients.

“People who are going in there are well into recovery,” he said. “They’re very familiar with us, and we’re very familiar with them.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, secured the $2 million grant as part of Community Projects Funding available for his district.

Foster was at the panel discussion and presented a check for the grant.

He said substance abuse has become an epidemic that “has claimed too many lives, broken too many families, and shattered too many communities.”

Kathleen Burke, director of substance use initiatives for the Will County Executive’s office, noted that the number of deaths from overdoses in Will County had grown sharply in the past two years after falling in 2019.

“We need the whole continuum of services for people in recovery,” Burke said. “Recovery homes are one of the most important steps.”