Recovery Outreach Community Center

Closer to Becoming a Reality


By Bridget Bauer

It looks like Teddy Steen’s long-time dream is coming into existence.

Before Steen, executive director of ASCENT Recovery Residences, started the faith-based recovery program, she always dreamed of a recovery outreach community center (ROCC). The community center would be a place for people with substance use disorders and their families to get help, education and direction to become responsible citizens.

“I want to stress this is a community center, and although the focus is on the recovery community, anyone who wants to better their lives and learn how to become self-sufficient is welcome” Steen said. “The system is so hard to navigate. This would be a one-stop shop to help in long-term recovery. It would be peer-run and a collaboration of people from all walks of life. So many people are interested and have their certain passions they want to incorporate.”

This would be under the umbrella of ASCENT Recovery, but it would be a separate entity with the idea of the recovery community stepping up and taking ownership. Steen and the ASCENT board of directors have been talking about a community center for a while since recovery support is now being acknowledged as an integral part of successful long-term sustained recovery. Last November, the idea got a jump start after Aaron Brown, a board member and pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, received a donation of $20,000.

Brown was invited to The Exchange, a leadership conference by John Maxwell. Prior to going, the attendees were given a chance to fill out an application to pitch a non-profit organization with the winner receiving $20,000 from Barbara Corcoran, one of the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank. Brown was selected as one of the three finalists and had to give a two-minute pitch. Though he didn’t win, generosity led to $80,000 being given away.

The winner of the $20,000 had a matching grant and offered to give $5,000 away to other two finalists. Corcoran told him to keep his $20,000 and with the matching grant would raise that to $40,000. She then gave Brown and the other finalist $10,000. Maxwell then added another $10,000 so all three finalists received $20,000.

Suddenly, the vision has started coming together. Just last month, Steen received a phone call from Renita Kitchingham, a staff member at Lafayette House and substance abuse counselor. She has also been interested in getting a community center going and told Steen someone told her she was also working toward that goal. Kitchingham was on the agenda at the city council meeting to talk about getting the city to donate the old senior center building or another building.

“She asked me if I wanted to go, and I said yes,” Steen said. “Her vision and mine are the same. We’ve joined forces, and it was perfect timing. She wasn’t going to call, but she did. It had to be God’s plan”

A large group of the recovery community has come together, and the two are taking all ideas and passions to make something great for the community, not to mention the potential cost savings. The women will go back before the council to present a more in-depth plan. One thing Steen wants to stress to the community is safety is the number one priority.

“First and foremost is the safety,” she said. “We have to have structure, and it is very important that people know it is a safe place to be.”

Everyone is working toward the same goal—long-term recovery from whatever that looks like for each person. Multiple pathways to recovery exist, and the two want to have components that appeal to each pathway.

“I’ve always wanted a resource center, and so has Renita,” Steen said. “I wanted it before I started ASCENT. I’m so excited, and this is God’s work. A sense of peace came over me as soon as Renita and I began talking. The momentum has been crazy. We just had to wait on His timing.”