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A Timeline of Steppingstone’s 49-year History


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, Massachusetts. This program’s primary services include assessment, nutrition education, substance use and health education, as well as individual, group and family counseling, which are provided to men for a period of up to one year in a residential setting.


After two 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, the William B. Webster 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. The Women’s Therapeutic Community, a 28-bed facility located in Fall River provides assessment, nutrition education, substance use and health education, as well as individual, group and family counseling in a residential setting for up to one year.



The Women’s Therapeutic Community began offering specialized services to pregnant women and their newborns including service coordination for methadone therapy, prenatal care, hospital services, obstetrical and gynecological services, pediatric care, and parenting skills education with follow-up intervention.



After a decade of operating 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. 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.



Alumni of these four programs exhibited a need for continued outpatient support, which led to the establishment of Steppingstone’s Outpatient Program. The program provides services to individuals who are struggling with substance use, including individual, group and family counseling and outreach services for the hard-to-reach street homeless population.



Steppingstone opened two additional programs to meet emerging community needs. The Transition House opened its doors to ten homeless men and women with substance use 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 use treatment in the City of New Bedford, Ma. This inspired us 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.



To provide continued support services to clients of the New Bedford Women’s Program, Steppingstone began operations of the New Bedford Graduate Program. This Program offered 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.



Steppingstone began operations of an emergency shelter program in order to meet the essential needs of the homeless. The First Step provided safe shelter, nutritional meals and case management services to 13 homeless men and women daily.



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. This permanent housing program provides 22 single room occupancy units and supportive services to homeless men and women in the City of Fall River.



Due to a need for supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS, Steppingstone began operations of its HIV/AIDS Residential Support Service Program 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.



The Outpatient Program expanded into provide mental health treatment services to persons with mental health disorders and integrated dual-diagnosis treatment for persons with co-occurring disorders.



Steppingstone began operations of Welcome Home. This Program provided eleven subsidized, supportive permanent housing units to persons living with HIV/AIDS in the City of New Bedford and grew to provide 15 units. Participants may remain in Welcome Home apartments permanently with the goal to transition into independent living as they develop the necessary skills and support systems to be
self-sufficient in the community. Supportive services are available to residents and include assistance with connecting to behavioral health treatment and obtaining employment, entitlements, and parenting, living and coping skills, as well as finding independent housing prior to discharge. These skills, services, and supports empower participants so they experience housing stability and an improved quality of life.
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.



The First Step Inn expanded to serve an additional six homeless persons. To further meet the needs of the chronically homeless.



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



Project ROAR expanded its services to include the female population at Bristol County House of Corrections.



Steppingstone began the Home First program that provides 12 scattered-site housing units to chronic homeless men with substance use disorders in Fall River. Men may reside in Home First permanently or may choose to transition into independent living as they develop the necessary skills and support systems to be self-sufficient in the community. Services include assistance with connecting to behavioral health treatment, obtaining employment, entitlements, living and coping skills as well as finding independent housing prior to discharge. These skills services, and supports empower men so they experience housing stability and an improved quality of life.



As alternative methods in treating individuals with substance use disorders evolved into a peer model, Steppingstone opened Peer2Peer (Peer 2 Peer Recovery Support Center). The center offers a safe and confidential place for individuals to learn from peers with lived experience, share their challenges and become empowered. Each Individual path to recovery is respected and each individual is met at whatever point in recovery they are at.



To accompany the peer model, Steppingstone introduced Recovery Coaching. A recovery coach is a motivator and cheerleader that believes in a recoveree’s capacity for change. They are an ally and confidant, always prepared to actively listen. A recoveree can expect a coach to be a truth teller who provides honest feedback and offers suggestions. They are a role model and offer their own life as an example of healthy living. A coach can help identify problem areas and assist with problem solving. They can provide linkages to the recovery community, treatment, and other supports. A recovery coach is an advocate and can act as a representative for the recoveree when requested. A recovery coach is an equal and recovery advocate. The First Step homeless shelter program expanded to a brand new home on Durfee Street in Fall River. The First Step Inn is a state-of-the-art space and houses all of the programs that First Step offers – health checks, sobriety counseling, GED classes, and financial literacy classes and will also offer meals, showers, laundry facilities and beds to the homeless. The organization continues to offer the 20 beds in the organization’s transition program and also expanded to have room for 30 more people during the coldest part of the year.



Steppingstone joined into a partnership with a group of community-based and human service organizations CCN (Coordinated Care Network) working with Accountable and Managed Care Organizations to integrate care and improve health outcomes for Mass Health members with complex long-term and/or behavioral health needs.



Addressing the needs of individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorders, Steppingstone introduced Project SOAR (Supporting Opioid Addiction Recovery). This program serves individuals with opioid use disorders who will benefit from medication assisted treatment (MAT). In conjunction with MAT, psychosocial treatment is be provided to participants through a variety of approaches including social skills training, individual, group, and couples counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and family therapy.



The Recovery Coaching program was so successful that Steppingstone able to expand and began offering Project Recovery, an initiative to integrate peer recovery coaches into local hospital emergency rooms and inpatient units, Fall River Fire Department’s Safe Stations and Fall River’s emergency homeless shelter. Recovery Coaches also perform outreach in local senior and veteran’s centers. Project Recovery services include outreach and engagement, individual coaching and mentoring, peer-led support groups and activities, assessment of recovery capital, individual wellness planning, navigation support, employment coaching and family support. In October of 2020, Steppingstone received its first United States Office of Justice Programs award. This grant funded the Bristol County Re-entry Project which operates under the umbrella of Project ROAR, and provides re-entry support and treatment access to the pre-trial population and provides a re-entry navigator in the Region 8 Parole office and re-entry support and treatment access.