About The Empowerment Center

We are always excited when Monica Jaye invites us to be on her show, Nevada Outlook. Be sure to take a moment to hear Sandra Finelli and Brittany Stahl talk about ten years of progress, lives that have changed, community support and workforce development.

The Empowerment Center is a licensed sober-living facility that offers a structured, friendly community for recovering men and women. We specialize in helping people rebuild their lives after drug and alcohol treatment by providing Sober Living environments operated on the 12-step modality of recovery.

Individuals who are leaving treatment or incarceration face many obstacles; among these, loss of a stable home situation is in the forefront. Recognizing that a stable home environment is essential to successful recovery, The Empowerment Center provides this to individuals who share the common goal of recovery. Recovery is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Millions of addicts and alcoholics have proven it is not something that can be accomplished alone. Generally, after treatment or incarceration, communal sober living is advised.

The Empowerment Center Sober Living Home is an affordable, alcohol, drug, and gambling free environment that provides a positive place for peer group recovery support. Sober housing promotes individual recovery by providing an environment that allows the residents to develop individual recovery programs and become self-supporting. At The Empowerment Center, residents are asked for a minimum commitment of 90 days but may stay for up to two years.

What The Empowerment Center was

The Empowerment Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit social change organization, was founded on 3/15/2005 for the purpose of providing an independent (not affiliated with any treatment center, hospital, institution, or religion)12-step based, transitional living homes for women struggling with the diseases of addiction and alcoholism. At inception, The Empowerment Center was the only independently operated, 12-step based family style sober living home in the Reno/Sparks area that provided a drug and alcohol free environment for women. The target population was individuals who had been through treatment at some time in their lives but continued to struggle to stay clean and sober. This type of program is not unique, in that the Reno/Sparks area has many sober living homes and numerous treatment facilities for the female population. However, The Empowerment Center was the only organization of its type providing these vital services for the female population in the Reno/Sparks area.

The Empowerment Center identified a critical social need and significant gap in services in this area. Through the tenacious dedication and determination of the founder, Barbara Pierson, a much-needed service for adult women suffering from alcoholism and addiction has been addressed and a comprehensive program became available in our community.

Barbara Pierson spent ten years volunteering by taking 12-step meetings into detoxification units, rehabilitation centers, jails, and prisons. She experienced first-hand how these facilities are overflowing, and how the foster care system is overburdened with displaced children. This sad fact of society today is largely the effect of the staggering number of women with ongoing substance abuse problems. This results in the displacement of children, the cost to taxpayers for incarceration, medical care, the court system, tax funded treatment centers, homelessness, and the welfare system. Ms. Pierson began this grassroots organization because of the undeniable need in the Reno/Sparks area for sober living homes for women. In 2007, The Empowerment Center expanded its service to include adult men looking for a stable, clean, and sober living facility.

What The Empowerment Center is today

Although The Empowerment Center began with only one unpaid staff person, the founder, Barbara Pierson, the program currently enjoys 1 ¾ paid and four (4) unpaid staff as the Program Manager, two (2) live-in house managers and one (1) recovery mentor.

Under the guidance of Executive Director, Sandra Finelli, The Empowerment Center has grown from two small rentals in Sparks to a 34 bed facility providing a recovery-oriented system of care within a sober living facility for adult men and women who are ready to become successful, self-sufficient, and productive members of society. The organization is the first licensed half way house in northern Nevada, as defined by the State of Nevada. The Empowerment Center serves low income, recovering addicts and alcoholics, many of whom have been incarcerated or homeless for quite some time. As a result, many of them lack the necessary skills to secure employment. The Empowerment Center provides life skills classes for the clients on a weekly basis in which they learn about healthy relationships, money management, basic mechanic skills, and communication skills, among other things. A Women’s Empowerment Group and a Men’s Strength of Character group are offered and are based on spiritual principles as found in the 12-programs of recovery. The mission of the Empowerment Center is: “To provide recovering addicts and alcoholics the highest probability of long-term success through a 12-step, recovery oriented system of care with safe and sober housing and support services.”

At The Empowerment Center, clients progress through a four level system of care which is focused on the concepts, steps and spiritual foundation of the 12-steps. Each client is given a client handbook which includes step mapping, workforce development curricula, self esteem skills and tools and transitional guidance to move them from dependency to full self-sufficiency.

In February 2010, through the generosity of the community and several nationally based foundations, The Empowerment Center purchased an old transient motel located at 7400 South Virginia Street. This provided an opportunity for The Empowerment Center to illustrate services that would ultimately provide housing and support services to 34 men and women seeking to re-enter society as productive parents, employees, and community members. We are pleased to announce that as of this writing, the Board of Directors has raised over $1.3 million non-tax dollars for the acquisition and renovation of this facility. In late fall of 2011, the organization opened the Redfield Culinary Center and community building.

Sober living homes, such as The Empowerment Center, take the concepts and tools taught in most traditional treatment centers, one-step further and apply them to daily living. In sober living homes, residents maintain employment, are assigned chores, reasonable curfews, etc. They are required to attend recovery meetings, work with a sponsor, and practice honesty and integrity while working the 12-steps of recovery. The residents of The Empowerment Center enter the program voluntarily and pay a reasonable fee of $150 a week for their housing, food, and services. The Empowerment Center offers hope to men and women who know they have a serious problem with addiction. These residents value their lives and sobriety and are willing to work and pay for it. The actual cost of providing this service is considerably greater than $150 per week, per person; therefore, The Empowerment Center relies heavily on volunteers and donations.

What The Empowerment Center aspires to be

Currently The Empowerment Center is designing a workforce development project based on the Delancey Street model in San Francisco. Too often, non-profit organizations fail because they rely too heavily on client service fees and tax funding. In order to ensure long-term sustainability of this vital program in our community, The Empowerment Center is determined to ensure the financial success of the program by stepping outside of the typical funding sources.

We are constantly amazed at the number of lives that have been changed and how the original vision has grown. The future of The Empowerment Center is bright, our residents experience hope like never before, and our community is a better place because of the vital work that is being accomplished by the board of directors, staff, residents, and our many volunteers.

The Empowerment Center has undergone numerous changes in 2010 and 2011. Formerly called The Launching Pad, the name has been changed to better reflect our passion for empowering men and women to become all they are meant to be.