SisterHouse Program

The SisterHouse Program

SISTERHOUSE provides a networking community of women with a familial environment committed to excel and improve all dimensions of their lives.

Each new member of SISTERHOUSE is genuinely welcomed and embraced with a love that will continue to speak word and deed as they begin a new life...together.

SISTERHOUSE requires accountability and personal responsibility to the group. It offers a secure, structured, and peaceful environment where women can grow in self-esteem and spiritual maturity.
Three-Phase Program 

Phase I: 3 Months

The program begins with the three months of 12-hour intensive outpatient therapy and study of the first five steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, five to seven AA meetings per week, Adult Education classes, and an introduction to communitarian lifestyle.

Phase II: 3 Months

The women set individual goals that help them to focus on recovery and gain a sense of community. The women are referred to a job readiness program where they are extensively trained and given best practices on how to dress for success, create/update resume(s), computer/typing skills and job training/search. The residents continue to study the Twelve Steps and attend four to six AA meetings per week. Residents also practice time and money management over the course of these 3 months.

Phase III: 6-12 Months

The women develop a network of supportive relationships for their lifelong process of recovery as this aspect of our program focuses on job search, employment opportunities, finance management, housing search and the reunification of families. The elements of support and challenge continue as we assist the women in creating short and long-term goals for their future.


What our Residents have to say about SisterHouse

A New Me

It is an honor and a privilege to be at SisterHouse. When I came in April, 2009, I was willing. As I stepped through the door, I felt "I belong here!" I have had several challenges and SisterHouse offered the solution. I do belong.

For the first 90 days I attended intensive outpatient therapy. Currently I am attending a job readiness program called CARA. For me, the transformation has begun. My self-esteem is high, I feel empowered and I am beautiful. I am strong and confident. At the door that first day, I had none of the attributes; four months later, I am aware of these gifts. 

SisterHouse has helped me to see me with new eyes. It has helped me to reestablish family relation­ships. The greatest relationship of all is the one I have with God. As a direct result of meditation I have developed a personal relationship with my God and it is awesome! 

I must thank Ms. Rochelle and Sister Shannon for being powerhouse role models. They have taught me how to love me no matter what. I am truly blessed and highly favored! 

Submitted by Johnette, 2009 resident
My Stay at SisterHouse, 2008

When I arrived at SisterHouse for my assessment, I did not know what to expect. I did not know anyone. All I knew was that I did not want to use and I would do anything it took to live that change. I was willing – just like I was once willing to get one more.

On my way to the office that day I looked into the Meditation Room and saw some ladies sitting in there so I just imagined me sitting in there, too. IT WORKED! Here I am at SisterHouse! 

I began on February 26, 2008. I found out that Ms. Rochelle wants the best that life has to offer for me. She taught me integrity and that I could depend on God to supply my needs. Eighteen months later, I still thank her. She was so right on.

I am an active member of a church, I am deepening my spirituality, and I am learning responsibility, accounability, respectfulness and a whole lot of humility. I am blessed to work at Healthcare Alternative Systems, H.A.S., to be of service to other suffering addicts. I have a sponsor and go to meetings regularly. SisterHouse has given me hope and confidence so that I do not have to use about anything ever again in life, living it one day at a time. 

SisterHouse is like a transformation home. I came spiritually , mentally, and physically broken but, thank God, I got better. Currently I am Senior Resident and being SR is teaching me REAL HUMILITY! But guess what? I am going to need it out there when I make my transition to leave SisterHouse. 

Now SisterHouse is allowing me to save money and give back a portion that was freely given to me when I first walked through the doors. SisterHouse is free but the price I pay is my time. SisterHouse is home away from home and one of the learnings is that there are consequences for anything you do. The best is to avoid doing what is not in the will of God for you. 

Submitted by Sandra, 2008 resident
An Alum's SisterHouse Experience

I started at SisterHouse just like all the women here looking for a new start on life, after years being lost within the world and myself, not having a God of my own. My first contact with SisterHouse director, Rochelle Sims, was that most important assessment. Many applicants shine during this process but me it was like a visit to the dentist! I had nothing to offer yet, for some amazing reason, Ms. Rochelle looked past such a horrible interview and gave me a chance. 

The biggest adjustment for me was getting in tune with the day in the Meditation Room. I did not understand then but now I realize that that was where and how to learn about God, self and sobriety. The second challenge was getting used to the 'other' ladies. I thought I would never learn to like them but those ladies are now my friends and family. Today we can laugh at the moments we shared in the growth process. 

Did I get into trouble? Yes, trying to take back my will from God and this program. Did I learn from any and all my consequences? Yes, I remember why and how it af­fects my thought process today. I do the right thing not the next right thing. 

The SisterHouse program has five major components: to start the recovery process from substance abuse; to work with a Sponsor; to attend a job training program (CARA) or school (GED or College); to get a job; and to obtain your own living situation. Today I keep my recovery up front, I continue to work with my sponsor, go to school, work, and, yes, I maintain my own apartment. 

If it were not for SisterHouse, the listening and under­standing, my goals would not been reached. September 2009 I will be graduating from The Illinois Institute — Chicago with an AAS in Culinary. During my school years I was able to use SisterHouse in several school projects: one was when I acquired my Safety and Sanitation License and the last requirement was an I1-week internship where I assisted the ladies in menu planning, shopping and education on nutrition. Upon graduating, I will return to college to begin working towards my BA in Hospitality Man­agement. 

I started my own catering business, "DREAMS COME TRUE we cook for you". It is small but I am not giving up. I continue to work in a variety of hotels. I am truly thankful for SisterHouse and there is nothing I would not do to ensure that this program continues. 

I give back by volunteering—sharing my experience, strength and hope with the residents. Sometimes I prepare a meal—that is why I am aka The Chef. I just continue to give hope as the hope was given to me.

Submitted by Lynne, Alumna

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the residents at SisterHouse and how do they get there?
SisterHouse accepts women from all over the Chicago area regardless of race and ethnicity. Substance abuse counselors and case managers refer women to SisterHouse from rehabilitation facilities and prison programs. SisterHouse has a capacity for 20 women at a time, who must be at least 21 years of age. Many have children, and most still have contact with their families.

Do children live with women at the house?
No. The staff at SisterHouse believes that the women need this recovery time to focus on their personal development and to devote their full attention to understanding their individual needs and responsibilities. Children are invited to visit on weekends.

How does SisterHouse differ from other recovery homes?
Women come to SisterHouse because they are assured of a drug-free home where they can live and learn in community and where they can develop spiritually. The small size at SisterHouse provides opportunities for personal attention and guidance from the staff. The "women only" atmosphere fosters bonding, and social interaction is encouraged through communal meals and outings. Private bedrooms offer a home-like environment where the women can have needed quiet time and a space that is theirs alone. The residents at SisterHouse share responsibilities for housekeeping, grocery shopping, and cooking as they learn to take care of themselves and each others.

Is SisterHouse "strict"?
Many people equate structure and discipline with being strict. We at SisterHouse believe that providing structure where it has been absent is the first step to creating a productive future. SisterHouse offers both support and challenges to the women and tries to help them build a firm foundation based on personal responsibility and accountability. Because SisterHouse is a private agency, we have taken the liberty of developing a model that works best for us—one that has a firm spiritual component and high expectations for appropriate behavior and self discipline.

How long can the women stay at SisterHouse?
Women can stay at SisterHouse up to 18 months. During this time, they are offered opportunities for study, meditation, self-reflection, self-help meetings, job training, and participation in groups that focus on the many aspects of addiction and recovery.

The staff at SisterHouse believes that the women who reach their goals are those who have expectations that match the SisterHouse program and who believe strongly that this is their time to make needed changes in their lives. Those who leave prematurely generally have expectations that are not in sync with the SisterHouse program, but we believe that, however long their stay, they do benefit from the loving atmosphere and the exposure to a drug-free environment. Hence, their leaving is in no way equated with failure on their part. They may come to SisterHouse alone, but they all leave in community and never have to be alone again.

What do the women take with them when they leave SisterHouse?
During the time the women are at SisterHouse, we encourage their development in the following areas:               
    - Putting a support network in place 
    - Managing time and money
    - Setting personal goals and working on them.

The SisterHouse staff believes that if they are prepared in these areas, the women will have a greater chance of meeting life's challenges once they are on their own. When the residents leave, the most important things they take with them, however, are a deep awareness of empowerment with a renewed sense of personal dignity and hope for a bright future.
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