WRC Story

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CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF EMPOWERING WOMEN

The Women’s Recovery Center was originally established as the Westside Women’s Center in early 1986. Located on Storer Avenue in the Stockyards neighborhood of Cleveland, OH, the organization provided a safe and non-judgmental space for women from the near Westside of the city to find support and assistance. Here a group of social service agencies came together in one convenient place for those in need. Each agency provided specific programming and each agency held a seat on the Board.

We currently provide services for women from Cuyahoga, Summit, and Lorain Counties. Our addiction and substance abuse treatment programs are successfully impacting women and their families that suffer from addiction and substance abuse. We provide them with the necessary skills for life-long recovery.

In 1989, under the leadership of Claire Farnsworth, the Westside Women’s Center joined a national network of women’s sports festivals entitled “run, jane, run.” This name derives from a series of old schoolbook readers. The stories in these books portray Jane as passive and deferential. She can only “Look, Jane, Look” as Dick and Spot run, play ball, and have adventures. Jane is no longer on the sidelines and we see “run-jane-run”. These multi-event festivals raised funds for women’s groups though out the country.

Nickie Antonio became the Executive Director in 1990 and under her direction the Center became a certified alcohol and drug addiction treatment center. It was also the first to provide counseling for women living with HIV and AIDS. The first bilingual and bi-cultural HIV program for women was organized. Hard Hatted Women had their offices onsite, and the Center became a stronger referral resource location for women. Nickie remembers those years as a learning experience: “The women who were involved with the Center were incredible human beings! During my years there I learned how to create a welcoming environment, how to give and receive hugs, and how to work with people seeking services.”

In 1997, Mary Jane Chichester took over Center leadership. She was charged with the mission to provide opportunities for women to take greater control over their lives physically, emotionally, and economically. At that point, outpatient substance abuse treatment services were offered for medically indigent women. Childcare services for mothers engaged in treatment were also made available. In 1997, the client capacity was limited to treating 30 women per year for addiction. In 2019 the number increased to 115.

Ashley Yassall was appointed as the Executive Director in 2019. She was previously involved at the Women’s Recovery Center as a Board of Directors member. Ashley plans to expand programming to fully utilize the newly renovated space. She also intends to build strong community partnerships to better serve the Stockyards neighborhood and the Cleveland community.

In 2013, in response to the growing opioid epidemic, the Board of Directors of the Women’s Recovery Center completed and approved a new Strategic Plan. Realizing that our current facility was a barrier to achieving our stated goals, a reconfiguration of the facility was built into the plan. Working with Robert Maschke, Architect, we analyzed our current space needs and created an award winning design which allowed us to double our capacity to provide high quality addiction treatment services. With a new strategic plan and increased vision, the organization emerged as the Women’s Recovery Center to be an outspoken advocate of addiction treatment and to reduce the shame and fear that women have in seeking help.

Upon the completion of construction of the facility in 2017, the Women’s Recovery Center was able to operate three intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs with a full parents on-site childcare program. The individualized and gender specific treatment curriculum is a trauma integrated approach to long-term sobriety and economic self-sufficiency. Specifically, the treatment curriculum incorporates group and individual therapy, art and drama therapy, parenting and family violence counseling, and family counseling emphasizing family reunification. The Center also has integrated physical health care with behavioral health care, provides referral services, clothing distribution, and HIV education.

Today the Women’s Recovery Center has completed construction and we have raised nearly 80% of the $1,100,000 that we will need to rebuild, refurnish and upgrade our information technology capacity in the new space. Our goal in reconfiguring the facility and expanding our programming is to reduce the wait time to 48 hours for a woman seeking addiction treatment at our facility, and increase our capacity from 115 to 300 women treated per year.

With the mantra, Treating Addiction…Liberating Lives, the Women’s Recovery Center is a unique organization dedicated to comprehensively addressing the complex and critical needs of medically indigent women who have been affected by substance use disorder. Through our thirty years of existence, there have been 514 babies born drug-free to former clients of the Center. Every day, we are grateful to witness the Miracles of Recovery.