Group creates A Safe Haven for recovery

March 26, 2009 10:27:38 AM PDT
Once a crack house, this Rogers Park building is now a place for those recovering from the addiction.The home is one of 13 such facilities in the Chicagoland area operated by A Safe Haven, a private organization cofounded by Neli Vasquez-Rowland and her husband in 1994.

"Brian and I, my husband and I, had an experience with the issue of alcoholism and ended up going to a formal treatment program outside of the state which at the time was one of the alternatives for someone to go to," said Vasquez-Rowland.

A Safe Haven is now the largest home recovery operator in the country.

"It's kind of what I need in my life, is somebody to show me the right direction and this place is supposedly doing it," said one A Safe Haven client who did not wish to be identified.

Renee Clark is a graduate of the recovery program. The mother of six and grandmother of four now works as a case manager.

"Now I get to pass on what I learned here and the most amazing thing is to see the transformation of a client walking in the door as I did? just torn to shreds, hopeless," said Renee Clark, program graduate.

Since A Safe Haven was created, 28,000 people have come through the program. Out of that number, 70-percent have remained clean and sober. Sherise Smith is a manager at a South Side location. She was an A Safe Haven client 6 years ago.

"Now I am certified professionally to educate other people (who're) in recovery that might have the same struggles I had," said Smith.

"Anyone who comes through A Safe Haven is always amazed at the fact there's really no judgment opinions made about them when they walk through the door. We really are about looking at their strengths, building on them, and giving them the tools to succeed," said Vasquez-Rowland.

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