As the largest non-profit provider of treatment for substance use disorder in the region, Gaudenzia operates dozens of treatment centers, including 14 for women with children. But it is the stories inside the walls of these facilities that make up the Gaudenzia difference.
Now, the latest has opened, and it’s an especially critical one. The Bobby Spurrier Center near the Kensington section of Philadelphia is the city’s first state-licensed halfway house and rehabilitation center for women and children. The Bobby Spurrier Center will house up to 16 women at a time, who can each have up to two children, for a maximum capacity of 48 at any one time. The center will be operated by Gaudenzia, with $630,000 provided by Philadelphia’s Community Behavioral Health (CBH) through reinvestment funds provided to the city from the state to help with start-up costs.
As a halfway house, The Bobby Spurrier Center will serve women who have completed treatment but need help and support before living on their own.
And the stories? The ones in this facility start with Bobby Spurrier, a former Gaudenzia client in the Philadelphia area who battled substance use disorder for years. After nearly dying from an overdose, he entered a Gaudenzia program, which his father, Robert Spurrier, said got his son’s life on track.
“Bobby was back,” Robert Spurrier said at the center’s open house recently. “He was a kid again. He was our son again.”
After several positive, drug-free years, Bobby Spurrier died of complications from a compromised immune system and a septic infection. While sad, Robert Spurrier credited Gaudenzia with giving the family the “best years of Bobby’s life.” The family wanted to show its appreciation through a donation to Gaudenzia that helped result in the center that bears his son’s name.
“We have those good memories and quite frankly, if it wasn’t for Gaudenzia we wouldn’t have had those memories,” Robert Spurrier said. “My sincere hope is that the people coming through the doors here get to make memories the same way we did.”
The Bobby Spurrier Center helps remove a significant barrier that many women with children face during stays for treatment of addiction and co-occurring disorders. If mothers cannot bring children into a treatment setting with them, many will not go, fearing that they will lose physical custody of the children. The Bobby Spurrier Center will provide women shelter, recovery support and a clean, safe place for their children to live, play and attend school.
“What we have done here is remarkable on many, many levels,” said Dr. Dale Klatzker, chief executive of Gaudenzia. The women who will use this facility are “courageous and strong and we can’t do enough for them.”
Gaudenzia has long been a pioneer in treatment for women with children, having opened the first facility in Pennsylvania geared solely to them 42 years ago. That facility, Vantage House in Lancaster, is still in operation.
“This is a multi-generational issue,” Klatzker said. “Through programs like this, we have a better shot at ending the cycle.”
The Bobby Spurrier Center also underscores the partnership that Gaudenzia has with the City of Philadelphia.
Dr. Faith Dyson-Washington, chief executive of Community Behavioral Health, praised the work that the city and Gaudenzia have done together.
“Gaudenzia is a staple and pillar in the Philadelphia community,” she said. “Thank you for your commitment and your courage. We are here and you did it!”
Another speaker at the open house ceremony provided one of those stories that separate Gaudenzia. Damika told how her cocaine addiction started at the age of 12 and cascaded into a life of going in and out of treatment centers. “Drugs were always a factor in my life,” said the mother of seven children.
Now, with the help of Gaudenzia, she has had 19 months of uninterrupted sobriety.
“I’m a miracle in the making,” she said. “I’m living now. I’m doing things I’ve never done. Today, relapse is not an option for me.”
Gaudenzia provides evidence-based treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders at all levels of care in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. They utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, motivation enhancement and a trauma-informed approach. The options for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) includes buprenorphine, naloxone and support accessing methadone.
Gaudenzia’s comprehensive approach takes into account not only the challenges presented by substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders but also social determinants of health such as homelessness, poverty, education, food insecurity, incarceration, and unemployment.
Gaudenzia operates multiple treatment centers for women in Pennsylvania, including New Image (Philadelphia), Vantage (Lancaster), Kindred House (West Chester), House of Healing (Erie) and Fountain Springs (Ashland).
More information on Gaudenzia’s halfway house and women and children’s programs can be found on www.gaudenzia.org. Those who are in need of treatment can call Gaudenzia’s 24/7 Treatment and Recovery Helpline at 833-976-HELP (4357).