Founded in 2014 by Gabrielle Melville, who has been clean and sober for more than five years, Clear Skies Ranch, a non-profit animal welfare organization, operates Stagg House, a male-only sober living residence. Melville was inspired to open the house after witnessing a family member, who had been incarcerated, transform after going into a court-ordered drug rehab. Besides providing a nurturing environment, Clear Skies Ranch rescues shelter dogs that are facing immediate euthanasia. The dogs provide a form of therapy and clients also learn how to take care of themselves, by working with the animals. Typically, there are about three dogs at Clear Skies Ranch, including Melville’s German shepherd.
Accommodations and Amenities
Clear Skies Ranch’s Stagg House is a spacious white stucco Mediterranean-style villa with red tiled roofs, rounded doorways and a small white balcony. Secure gating protects the property. The house includes a large backyard with an outside patio and a barbeque area, a fruit and vegetable garden, central air and heating, and a basketball half court. The garden includes persimmon, orange, grapefruit, lemon and two fig trees.
The house has a 10-bed capacity, and two spacious rooms each accommodate four men, while the other room houses two clients. Bedrooms include twin or bunk beds, dressers and ample closet space. The house has three bathrooms, a dining room, two living rooms and a music room with couches, musical instruments and eclectic furnishings.
While clients are generally responsible for their own meals, which are prepared in a fully equipped kitchen, sometimes dinners are prepared. The kitchen has three refrigerators for plenty of food storage. Residents eat family-style, which also helps them bond, and often enjoy fresh lemonade, courtesy of the lemon tree. Amenities include Wi-Fi, cable TV, a house computer and laundry room. Melville lives on the premises, and is the house manager.
Rules and Regulations
While Melville prefers that clients have been clean and sober for a minimum of 30 days, or have undergone primary care, occasionally she accepts clients with less time. Clients typically range between 21 and 65 years of age. The residents work on individualized recovery protocols, depending on their recovery goals. Meeting requirements vary, also depending on clients’ needs, and work schedules.
The men are encouraged to attend 12-step, SMART Recovery or whichever recovery support group works best for them. At Clear Skies Ranch, a shelter dog is rescued every few months. By tending to the animal, clients learn compassion and unconditional love. Typically, the dog bonds with one client, and vice versa. When the client is ready to go home, he will take the dog with him. Then, another pooch is rescued.
The curfew is 10 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays. At Clear Skies Ranch, random drug and alcohol testing is conducted. During the first month, clients undergo four weekly screenings, to ensure the safety of the entire household. While a zero tolerance policy for relapse is practiced, clients can return after three days, on a case-by-case basis.
The house is near LA Pierce College. Other services besides housing include recovery coaching, goal planning, and transportation to medical appointments or outpatient treatment, and canine therapy. Melville is a registered vet tech, and holds an associates degree in addiction studies. She will be working as a certified addiction treatment counselor intern in the near future.
Clear Skies Ranch is a member of the San Fernando Sober Living Coalition, which demands quality sober living standards from members.
Melville has combined her love for animals with her compassion for recovering alcoholics and addicts and established a unique sober living home. Clear Skies Ranch is working on opening a larger ranch in the near future, which will have horses and other farm animals. In the meantime, clients who love dogs will probably love Clear Skies Ranch. Not only will they bond with the pooches, but Melville also works closely with her clients. This sober living home has a family-style quality, which can be very healing to those in early recovery. Clear Skies Ranch does not disclose their address, for the safety and privacy of clients.
Clear Skies Ranch
Winnetka, CA 91306
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