Named after a house that Bob and Lois Wilson once lived in, Stepping Stone was founded in 1962 by Jane O’Toole and Alice Blake in San Francisco, California. Besides being named after the Wilsons’ historic residence, the founders felt that the facility’s name symbolized their mission, which was to provide a stepping stone for a woman’s journey from active addiction to productive recovery. Stepping Stone is a transitional living home that provides long-term accommodations to 14 women, who range between 19 and 60 years of age.
Accommodations and Food
Stepping Stone is located inside a turquoise Victorian house that has white trim and includes a porch with a rounded doorway and potted plants. The interior has pale colored walls, wood floors, high ceilings and eclectic furnishings. Newcomers are paired in rooms, which are uniquely furnished, since the women are allowed to bring personal mementos, photos and knick-knacks. Storage space is limited. Clients can bring only one suitcase full of clothing and must provide their own hangers, personal hygiene products and reading materials. There are also three single-occupancy rooms, which are allotted to senior residents.
While Wi-Fi is allowed, clients are not allowed to have computers in their rooms. This rule is enforced to prevent isolation. The fully equipped kitchen is amply stocked with healthy food, and clients prepare their own breakfasts and usually pack their lunches to go. Residents are served four weekly family-style dinners inside the formal dining room. Vegetarians are accommodated. The house includes a large secluded backyard, which has several patio tables, chairs, a landscaped garden and trees. Staff lives on the premises.
Treatment and Staff
Prior to admission, clients undergo a lengthy interview process to ensure that Stepping Stone is a proper fit. Clients and staff develop individualized treatment plans. Detox is not provided, and clients who are on medication-assisted treatment are not accepted. The women must have been clean and sober for a minimum of 72 hours and pass an alcohol and drug screening before moving in. A six-month minimum length of stay is required, but Stepping Stone encourages women to stay anywhere from one year to 18 months.
All clients must participate in 32 weekly hours of employment, community service or academic pursuits. Unemployed clients are given 30 days to find a job, enroll in school or sign up for a volunteer activity. At Stepping Stone, evidence-based practices, as well as a psychodynamic approach, are employed during therapy. Weekly treatment includes individual and group therapy, attendance at 12-step meetings, both on and off the premises. Residents must attend 90 meetings in 90 days, acquire a sponsor and start working on their steps. After 90 days, clients must continue being at regular 12-step meetings and must attend all house gatherings.
During the first 30 days, newcomers attend one weekly relapse prevention group and three weekly spirituality groups. After that, they attend other weekly groups, and topics include anger management, social skills, meditation, emotional sobriety, employment, financial responsibility, cognitive skills and time management. Prior to discharge, clients and counselors establish an exit plan, designed to include aftercare treatment planning, housing strategies and other goals. Random drug and alcohol screenings are conducted. At Stepping Stone, a zero tolerance policy is conducted. Residents who relapse are evicted from the premises. The curfew is 11 pm seven days a week.
Staff includes executive director Gael Murphy, a Master’s-level MFT, who also holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley, residential managers and other licensed counselors.
The house is within walking distance of the Golden Gate Bridge. Clients are advised to not bring their cars, since parking is not easily accessible in the heart of San Francisco.
Besides providing a unique hybrid of sober living and primary care, the women at Stepping Stone form a strong sisterhood and provide peer support. For women who crave an environment where they can form a tight knit fellowship with a group in the heart of San Francisco, this is a great match.
255 10th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
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