The Gavin Foundation was founded in South Boston in 1963 by a parole officer who wanted to provide a haven for addicted men coming out of the prison system. Since the foundation’s inception, it has added a myriad of services, from residential treatment to outpatient care and community centers. Gavin House, one of its original residential offerings for men, is still going strong today, resting on a solid 12-step foundation.
Accommodations and Food
Residents stay at Gavin House, an early 20th-century, three-story mansion, while receiving treatment at the outpatient center. There are 12 bedrooms on the third floor and four on the second level, with common areas on the first floor. Gavin House sleeps 37 men—each bedroom has two or three twin beds, a closet, dressers and a bureau. There are four dormitory bathrooms, with multiple stalls and showers.
In the administrative offices on the first floor, clients can use the computers for job searches and resume building, Monday through Friday. The TV lounge is used as a gathering area and a group therapy room. While many residents are working during the day, they are allowed to watch TV whenever they want—unless they are in group or at a meeting. Adjacent to the media room, residents have access to their own kitchen and a games room with pool table and Ping-Pong. There’s also a gym in the basement, with free weights, elliptical machine and heavy bags for boxing.
The first floor has an industrial kitchen and a full-time cook. Men in Gavin House enjoy professionally cooked dinners Monday through Friday; dinner items include spaghetti and meatballs, roasted pork, burritos, roast beef, turkeys, pasta dishes, side salads and soups. The smaller, self-serve kitchen is used for breakfast and lunch, snacks and all weekend meals. Sugar and caffeine are allowed.
Treatment and Staff
Gavin House does not provide detox, but it does refer clients to appropriate facilities, like Phoenix House Quincy. If a client’s co-occurring disorder is particularly serious, he is referred elsewhere to specifically deal with those issues.
New Gavin House residents, who are still in primary treatment, participate in what is known as the Structured Outpatient Addiction Program or SOAP. SOAP is mostly CBT, but residents receive whatever their primary counselor deems appropriate. DBT, Motivational Interviewing and trauma therapy are all used, in addition to the 12 steps and individual therapy. Clients see their counselors privately at least once a week and go to a mandatory in-house 12-step meeting six nights a week, where they are required to find a sponsor and to start working the steps. Off-site meetings are not required, but the men are allowed to leave the premises to attend, depending on the schedule.
The Gavin House program is usually four to six months in duration, with clients stepping down in treatment during that time and returning to work. Yet-to-be employed residents must be awake and ready to start the day no later than 8:30 am. They eat, attend two morning meetings at the house and then go to the outpatient center for group therapy. Upon leaving there, clients look for jobs through the afternoon. If a client is employed, he is required to be at work until 4:30 pm and home by 5 pm. All residents eat dinner between 5 pm and 5:30 pm. Afterward, they help with chores, attend a meeting and have free time. There is no lights-out time, but residents must be in the house by 11 pm. Visitation occurs on the weekends—9 am to 4 pm or 5 pm. During visits, everyone must remain on the first floor, or they can go for a walk.
Gavin House employs five full-time and 25 part-time counselors. This makes for a staff-to-client ratio of almost one-to-one. These employees are a mixture of highly credentialed professionals and peer counselors, the majority of whom are men. This facility always has a minimum of two staffers available 24/7 including a live-in house manager. While Gavin House does not have an on-site doctor, they do employ a nurse practitioner. If a resident needs further medical attention, he is sent to a walk-in clinic less than 10 minutes away.
Gavin House provides clients with a free pass to the gym up the street, if the basement gym isn’t enough for them. Clients are also sometimes treated to sporting events like Red Sox games and college football. On the practical side, there is a lunch prep service for men who are working or out looking for work, where they can sign up and get a brown bag, with a sandwich, chips and a drink. As part of an aftercare program, alums often visit Gavin House for dinner, as well as making themselves available to their peers for support.
The Gavin Foundation also operates the Cushing Houses for adolescents, Graduate Centers for alums and the Walsh Center, which serves as a recreation spot for kids and teens. The outpatient facility, the Center for Recovery Services, is on the other side of South Boston. Divine Recovery Center is a community center that hosts coffee hours, recovery groups for men and women, Al-Anon meetings, meditation and more.
Gavin House welcomes any man with a desire to make a real change; the nominal fees only kick in once he gets his first paycheck. As part of the Gavin Foundation, this program gives clients the opportunity to be part of an expansive sober community in the Boston area—not just through local 12-step meetings, but also through the community and graduate centers. Being part of a huge sober family of men, women and even adolescents, all supporting each other, is invaluable for long-term recovery.
675 E 4th St
South Boston, MA 02127
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