A long-awaited sober living facility has opened, adding to the much-needed pool of resources available to those battling addiction.
Wabash Recovery, a sober-living facility located at a formerly abandoned church at the intersections of Wabash Avenue and North Street, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, marking a welcome addition to the tools available for those in need.
“You know, for me, this is what I needed right now,” said Ted Whallon, executive director of Wabash Recovery. “COVID has been tough, and it’s been tough on a lot of us. But for those of us in the recovery community, that connection with people that care about us is absolutely critical. There’s a reason why in 2020 overdose deaths jumped up about 30 percent. Isolation is not an addict’s or an alcoholic’s friend.”
Wabash Recovery will serve in a partnership of sorts with Turning Point Systems of Care, according to Turning Point Board President Paul Wyman. Turning Point will refer clients to the facility who have a need for housing, according to Wyman. Clients will be able to receive treatment at both Turning Point and Wabash Recovery if needed.
Wabash Recovery will serve as the “what’s next” for many struggling with addiction, substance abuse, and mental health issues after incarceration. The facility will give them a place to stay instead of them having to return to their previous environments.
According to Whallon, Wabash Recovery will have a 50-bed capacity for residents. As of last week, there already was one resident at the sober living facility. Whallon is working to hire cooks, counselors, addiction specialists, and other employees for the facility. Clients residing in the facility also will have a hand in cooking and cleaning.
Whallon said the facility will serve as a “hand-up” to those in need.
“I thought about something that a friend of mine said not long ago,” Whallon said. “He told me some of us have to die so that others of us can live. And I believe that, but I believe right now, with these doors open, it's going to save lives. People's lives are going to change … Now it's just time to prove it. I want to show you guys that we're a program of integrity.
“You know, I'm not going to lie. I'm a little old school, and I’m going to run a tight ship. These guys are going to be all about a hand-up, not a handout. I'll help you up. I'll do whatever I need to do to get you back on your feet. But the people walking through these doors need to understand that most of the work is going to come in their own feet, not my feet.”
The large-scale sober living facility, which boasts a full kitchen, shared living and dining spaces, workout equipment, and more came to fruition after Wyman met Nick Salvato, a developer from California.
The pair’s meeting led to a more than $250,000 investment into the property on Wabash Avenue and North Street, which was announced in November 2019.
Salvato said he “fell in love” with the community while doing real estate and construction in the area. He said he already had invested quite in bit in the community and created jobs. But he said he thought something was missing.
Back in California, one of the most meaningful projects he worked on started as a real estate deal where he was looking to earn a profit. However, the project turned into a sober living facility instead.
“And, you know, that became much more meaningful than just making a buck. It was actually caring for somebody and watching them from start to finish transform,” he said.
Now, he’s excited to have played a role in starting something similar in the City of Firsts.
The cost to stay at Wabash Recovery will be around $600 a month for clients, which includes residency and meals, according to Wyman.