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Steppingstone's History

Steppingstone’s Beginnings

In 1972, when the effectiveness of alcohol dependency treatment was still considered controversial, Steppingstone’s founders began operating the innovative Men’s Recovery Home in the City of Fall River. This Program’s primary services include assessment, nutrition education, substance abuse and health education, and individual, group and family counseling, which are provided to men for a period of up to one year in a residential setting.

After a few years of operations, the success of the Men’s Recovery Home was undeniable, and with encouragement from the City of Fall River Steppingstone opened a second program in 1974, the Graduate Program. This Program provides men who have completed treatment at the Men’s Recovery Home with continued support in an independent living environment for an additional year. The evident success of substance abuse treatment for men encouraged Steppingstone to launch a program for women in 1985. The Women’s Therapeutic Community, a 28-bed facility located in Fall River, provides assessment, nutrition education, substance abuse and health education, and individual, group and family counseling in a residential setting for up to one year. This Program began offering specialized services to pregnant women and their newborns in 1989, including service coordination for methadone therapy, prenatal care, hospital services, obstetrical and gynecological services, pediatric care, and parenting skills education with follow-up intervention.

Steppingstone grows with the Next Step Home

After a decade of operating these three programs successfully, Steppingstone took notice of an assessment of community needs in Fall River which indicated a need for permanent housing services for the homeless. In 1996, Steppingstone developed the Next Step Home Program to fill this gap in the City’s Continuum of Care and began offering scattered-site affordable housing with supportive services to 50 homeless individuals and families with disabilities. The Program provides clients with intensive case management, housing advocacy and permanent housing subsidies through the City’s Shelter Plus Care Program.Another great success, this Program received the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) “Best Practice” award in 2001. Additionally, the Program Director received a national award from the AIDS Housing Corporation for dedication and commitment to the homeless.

Outpatient Program

Alumni of these four programs exhibited a need for continued outpatient support, which led to the establishment of Steppingstone’s Outpatient Program in 1997. The Program provides services to individuals who are struggling with substance abuse, including individual, group and family counseling and outreach services for the hard-to- reach street homeless population. The Outpatient Program expanded in 2009 to provide mental health treatment services to persons with mental health disorders and integrated dual-diagnosis treatment for persons with co-occurring disorders.

Transition House & New Bedford Programs

In 1998, Steppingstone opened two additional programs to meet emerging community needs. The Transition House opened its doors to ten homeless men and women with substance abuse problems. The Program provides case management services to assist these homeless persons with a successful transition from homelessness to independent living. With Steppingstone now operating six successful programs in Fall River, the Agency became aware of a service gap for women’s substance abuse treatment in New Bedford and was inspired to develop a seventh program, the New Bedford Women’s Therapeutic Community. The Program provides women and women with infants with the support and services they need to break the cycle of chemical dependency and homelessness and become self-sufficient.

In order to provide continued support to clients of the New Bedford Women’s Program, Steppingstone began operations of the New Bedford Graduate Program in 2002. This Program offers supportive services to nine women who have completed the first three phases of treatment in the New Bedford Women’s Therapeutic Community for an additional two-year period.

First Step Inn & Stone Residence

In 2003, Steppingstone began operations of an emergency shelter program in order to meet the essential needs of the homeless. The First Step Inn provides safe shelter, nutritional meals and case management services to 13 homeless men and women daily. In 2012, this Program expanded to serve an additional six homeless persons. To further meet the needs of the chronically homeless, in 2004 Steppingstone designated a minimum of eight residential treatment beds for the chronically homeless and provided them with enhanced services through operations of the Homeless Demonstration Project.

Continuing its dedication to meeting the needs of the homeless, Steppingstone also opened the Stone Residence in 2004. This permanent housing program provides 22 single room occupancy units and supportive services to homeless men and women in the City of Fall River.

Growing Support System

Due to a need for supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS, Steppingstone began operations of its HIV/AIDS Residential Support Service Program in 2006, which transitioned into the Medical Case Management Program in 2009. This Program serves persons living with HIV/AIDS who reside in Steppingstone housing units and provides them with social services and medical care coordination, benefits counseling, and harm reduction.

In order to address the growing pool of men and women experiencing gambling addictions in Massachusetts, Steppingstone implemented a Gambling Treatment Program offered through the Outpatient Program in 2006.

Welcome Home & New Projects

In 2012 Steppingstone began operations of Welcome Home. This Program provides eleven subsidized, supportive permanent housing units to persons living with HIV/AIDS in the City of New Bedford. Also in 2012, Steppingstone’s Project ROAR (Re-Entering Offenders Achieving Recovery) began offering effective re-entry services to men transitioning out of the Bristol County House of Corrections Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Unit into the Fall River and New Bedford communities in order to reduce substance abuse and recidivism. In 2015, Project ROAR expanded its services to include the female population at Bristol County House of Corrections.

In 2014, Steppingstone launched a project FAIHR (Focused Achievements in Housing and Recovery) to provide supportive and wrap around services as well as substance abuse treatment and housing placement and stabilization support to chronic homeless individuals and families and homeless veterans in greater Fall River.

Steppingstone continues to meet the challenges of addiction treatment with realistic and compassionate ideas that have withstood the test of time, as evidenced by a growing pool of men and women who have rejoined their families and communities as healthy and productive individuals.