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heather morton's headshot taken in her marvel way sober living apartment in reno nevada. heather is wearing a brown shirt, sitting on a brown chair, and has her hand raising to her face, looking thoughtfully in the distance

Have you met Heather Morton? – a Marvel Way resident on recovery, learning to weld, and being a mom

Heather Morton is studying welding at Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) while living at Marvel Way with her daughters, ages 2 and 4. Every morning, she drops them off at daycare on the way to her welding work and classes, which she looks forward to every day. In the evenings, she’s grateful to come home to her own apartment, in a safe and secure building. She’s used to living in chaotic shared living spaces with up to 10 others, where “everything I’ve ever owned has been destroyed or taken away from me.” She explains, “This is the first time I’ve ever had my own place, my own house that nobody was going to take away from me.”

Heather’s life hasn’t always looked like this. For her and so many others, a safe and affordable place to live is an essential step in establishing a clean and sober lifestyle.

Here’s how she got here:

heather morton headshot

Heather’s Journey

Heather’s parents are both recovering addicts. When she was 13, she started drinking and smoking weed, and things escalated from there. When she turned 18, she became a stripper with her then-best friend and “it kind of fueled everything.” She tried a variety of drugs, had bouts with some of them, and despised meth, until her son’s father introduced her to it at 29 or 30. According to Heather, “It was the most powerful thing I’ve ever done. I couldn’t stop.” Around this time, her sister became addicted to heroin, and Heather saw “some really scary stuff” with both substances. She’s spent time in two domestic violence shelters, had a close friend die, and has attempted suicide.

When she knew things were bad, Heather sent her kids to live with family members. When her son was 3 years old (he’s 8 today), she sent him to live with his grandparents. And, when her daughters were ages 2 and 6 months (now 4 and 2), she sent them to live with her Aunt. A CPS worker saw that Heather wanted to change her life, and helped her by closing her case so Heather could transfer custody before entering treatment programs. Heather’s sister was already in recovery at point – and was a huge inspiration in helping Heather to get clean.

sarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in backgroundheather morton with her 2 kids on the day she entered drug treatment and recovery

sarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in backgroundHeather’s Recovery & Moving to Marvel Way

From here, Heather entered treatment at New Frontier, the Ridge House, then Crossroads. Between the 3 programs, she was in treatment for a year and half, working through them back to back. At Crossroads, she was allowed to have her girls with her. She received specialized therapy for domestic violence, traditional therapy, EMDR, relapse prevention, and parenting classes.

When Heather completed each of these programs, she didn’t feel ready to live independently and wasn’t sure where to go next. But, she says, she’ll “always remember the day at Crossroads when they had a big meeting, with 30 or 40 girls, and announced that the community was going to open a complex for people like us.” For the next step out of transitional living. “I remember getting goosebumps everywhere. I was like, I’m gonna live there!”.

heather morton at welding school

Learning to Weld

Growing up, Heather always did well in school and began welding with her dad at 13. She was awarded a scholarship for welding in High School, before her life took a different turn. A big piece of her recovery was getting back to working towards her goals. While in treatment, she received help applying for FASFA to cover her educational costs and enroll at TMCC.

Heather felt passionate about returning to welding from Day 1. After the first semester, she approached one of her instructors, feeling awkward in advocating her herself, and asked “Hey, can I have a job here? I don’t care how much you pay me, I just want the experience.” Of course, they told her, she was a fantastic welder and they had plenty of work for her. Today, Heather is working as an Instructor’s Assistant at TMCC.

About TMCC’s welding program, she notes “I’m surrounded by all these professors, and successful people, and a lot of them are in recovery too. It’s the greatest place on the planet.” She’s learning about different types of machines, how to repair them, fabrication, and more. “It’s like the whole world is just right there for me, everything I’ve ever dreamed of, and all I had to do was quite using.”

Heather Today & Looking Forward

With the help of her FAFSA grants, a Jacobsen scholarship, rental assistance from the Housing Authority, and her affordable Marvel Way 1-bedroom apartment – Heather is excited to be completing her Associate’s degree, job training, and welding certifications. Next, she aims to earn a bachelor’s degree so she can become a welding instructor. When Marvel Way Phase II is completed, and Heather is taking home a welder’s salary, she hopes to transition from her 1-bedroom apartment to a 2-bedroom unit in the new building.

In everything she does, being a good mom is Heather’s top priority. She knows her girls see what she does and are proud of her. They know she takes her laptop with her everywhere, and when they don’t see it on weekends away visiting family, they ask why – and remind her to do her homework! She’s reconnected with her son, and recently saw him for the first time in 4 years. Her girls came with her and met their brother for the first time.

At Marvel Way, Heather enjoys community events like BBQs, is looking forward to the Phase II playground for her girls, and appreciates living in a supportive community. At NA meetings, she “can’t wait to be one of the people in the room that gets to stand up when they have 5 years clean, or 10 years clean, or 20.” She’s inspired by Richard, Marvel Way’s Housing Director, as living proof that she can live the rest of her life in recovery, and not ever have to go back. And, she looks forward to helping her kids understand addiction, so they can make better choices and break her family’s cycle.

heather morton relaxing with her 2 daughters

Advice from Heather

Heather’s advice to anyone struggling with addiction is not to give up. “Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re worth, because you get to decide what you want out of life. And don’t listen to the statistics and the numbers and what people say about addicts. Just listen to yourself and believe in yourself.” She encourages people who are struggling to take advantage of therapy, counseling, and meetings. In time, “it’s only going to benefit you, and everything will fall into place.”

Her favorite quote is – “Work hard in silence, let success be your noise.”

Meet Sarah Verdugo – Empowerment Center Graduate and Marvel Way Resident

Sarah Verdugo was in treatment at The Empowerment Center in 2020. She currently lives in a 1-bedroom apartment at Marvel Way. She’s exploring going back to school, manages the Marvel Way community garden, and is enjoying getting to know her new sober community.

Before Sarah’s recovery, she was in multiple domestic violence situations and, she shares, “drank to not deal with what was happening.” When one of her ex’s punched her in the eye and partially blinded her, she had been working towards a new life, with a high paying job that would allow her to live on her own. Faced with being blind, “I completely gave up because I had everything taken from me in an instant.” She began drinking whenever she had the chance. “I didn’t want to have to deal with this new scary life” and “drinking was the point, at that point.” When her situation at home became increasingly violent, she knew she couldn’t continue to live as she was. She researched treatment programs, knew she needed a woman-focused recovery, and applied to The Empowerment Center.

sarah verdugo with hose in marvel way community garden

Sarah’s Recovery

With the help of The Empowerment Center and Marvel Way, Sarah has focused on both her recovery from addiction and physical healing. She’s had multiple surgeries, as well as physical therapy. While she’s still considered legally blind, her eyesight has improved and she can once again drive.

Sarah’s clean dates are March 21, 2021 and November 21, 2022. After treatment, Sarah returned to her previous living situation, realized how problematic it continued to be, and got out. Her second clean date represents the day she reclaimed her power by taking steps to leave her domestic violence situation, which included drinking for a weekend so her ex would bring her to a detox program. While in detox, Sarah received the help she needed to escape this relationship and move into her new home at Marvel Way in December 2022.

sarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in backgroundsarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in background

sarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in backgroundsarah verdugo in nature facing sideways with sun in backgroundMoving to Marvel Way

Today, Sarah is grateful to have landed at Marvel Way. She notes, “It’s helped me to grow as a person, to stand more on my own two feet, want to have goals and say, ‘oh wait, those are truly are my wants and desires.’” To her, Marvel Way provides more than just security and stable housing – it’s her community. Living here, while everyone’s story and background is different, all share a common bond and understanding. They support one another. “This place feels kind of like a positive and supportive continual group meeting at times,” she notes. It’s a place where “I can be me, with all my weirdness and silliness and have fun, but also I can share when I’m hurting or struggling with stuff, like mental health and addiction.”

Living at Marvel Way, Sarah is learning how much people truly want to help. They’re offering support both through Empowerment Center programs – like weekly therapy visits with UNR students earning internship hours while pursuing their degrees – and from staff who are helping her figure out what she needs. This is new to Sarah, as her family placed her heavily in the caretaker role from a young age. When she made it known that she had too many boxes of belongings filling her living space to have to sort through, Marvel Way had a solution. They gave her access to a storage shed so she could sort through everything at her own pace. To Sarah, Marvel Way is “the best case scenario.” It’s the affordable home and supportive community she needs to discover who she is and work towards her next healing steps.

14 handmade gift boxes made in art therapy by the women of reno's empowerment center recovery program

Running the Marvel Way Community Garden & Teaching Empowerment Center Art Classes

Sarah has always loved to garden. At Marvel Way, she’s the unofficial manager of the apartment complex’s community garden.

Growing up, as the oldest female granddaughter, she was often overwhelmingly responsible for watching over a large amount of cousins much younger than her all at the same time.  One of her favorite places to take them was her grandma’s gardens in the backyard. It kept everybody safely in one place. A love of gardening was instilled in Sarah from a young age, and that she’s always felt connected to. “No matter where I’ve gone, it’s something I’ve had to have, a part of the Earth.”

When Sarah lived in small apartments, she grew herbs, or helped to facilitate a small spot on the side of her building. She’s set up huge gardens along the edge of her mother’s house. Later, in one of her domestic violence situation, Sarah’s “one escape, the chance to be alone away from the house and him was to landscape for the same company he worked for.” She learned about more than just growing, including how to plan landscapes, select plants, and set up piping and irrigation systems for larger projects.

In addition, Sarah’s always been passionate about art. While in treatment at The Empowerment Center during Covid lockdown, she taught art classes to other women in the program. Some of her projects included making gratitude jars, guided acrylic paintings of a mother and child, and –  her favorite – having each woman decorate a large set of paper feathers and combining them to create a giant set of angel wings. Finding new ways to express herself creatively has been a key piece of Sarah’s recovery, and she’s appreciated opportunities to share this with her peers.

sarah verdugo surounded by sunflowers

What’s Next for Sarah?

Sarah will always find joy in gardening and art and has considered opening a floral shop but, she explains, “the one thing I’ve known about myself is that if it’s a hobby, don’t make it my career, because I may lose interest. When it’s something you have to do, it can create a lot of extra-intense anxiety and stress.” For now, she’s focusing on her mental health, personal growth, physical healing , and building her sense of community. She’s “trying to slow down and take one thing at a time and not have to speed through it all,” and with stable, affordable housing at Marvel Way – she feels fortunate that she doesn’t have to.

Looking to the future, Sarah’s goal is to go back to school and she’s considering working in healthcare. As a teen, Sarah wanted to become a pediatric oncology nurse. She started college, has many transferrable credits from several university programs, and acknowledges that one of her next steps will be to figure out which will transfer, and which program is best for her. With the help of The Empowerment Center, she’s already had her previous student loans forgiven, through a service that helps people who are legally blind. She’s been looking into medical assistant, licensed practical nurse, certified nursing assistant, and other certificate programs that are shorter than nursing school. She sees these options as stepping stones.

No matter what path Sarah takes, she knows it will be a better one. “Now that I’m sober, I have so much more life ahead of me. I finally have the room and space to take my time to discover who I truly am.”


alternative sentencing and the empowerment center group photo

Alternative Sentencing & The Empowerment Center with Sergeant Andrew Sherbondy

The Empowerment Center is a proud partner of the Washoe County Department of Alternative Sentencing’s STAR Program, which prioritizes Support, Treatment, Accountability, and Recovery for individuals with Opioid Use Disorder. This pilot program focuses on addressing the root causes of addiction, moving away from the traditional probation model. We spoke with Sergeant Andrew Sherbondy, who spearheaded STAR’s first-of-its-kind in our region approach in October 2022.

Here’s how STAR’s different, its history, and why it works:

5 members of the reno star program team

What’s the STAR Program?

The Department of Alternative Sentencing provides pretrial supervision for all levels of offence and misdemeanor probation supervision. In 2014, as a result of the opioid epidemic and seeing an increase in positive drug test for fentanyl and other opioids, Sherbondy submitted a grant application for a new pilot program: STAR.

STAR follows an intensive supervision model and multidisciplinary approach, with Andrew’s team including a probation officer, a licensed clinician, a peer support specialist, and a case manager. Together, they provide wraparound support for 25 people. “A big part of the program model hinges on community partnerships,” Andrew explains. They use Medication Assisted Treatment for much of their caseload and often place individuals in residential, recovery, housing, or inpatient programs. The STAR program contracts with The Empowerment Center for four beds for female participants who’d benefit from receiving treatment in a safe, sober environment. Andrew notes, “we’ve seen some pretty staggering improvements in mental health and in recovery for the gals that are in The Empowerment Center’s program.”

Sergeant Andrew Sherbondy headshot in dark grey polo shirtSergeant Andrew Sherbondy headshot in dark grey polo shirt

Sergeant Andrew Sherbondy headshot in dark grey polo shirtHow STAR is Different

STAR is an evidence-based program, Sherbondy explains, and “one of the best things about the Department of Alternative Sentencing is our ability to get our hands on people pretty close to the point of arrest,” when studies show they feel most ready to change. STAR will recommend these pre-trial individuals to the judges at the Reno Justice Court and enroll them in the program. From here, they’ll assess risks and needs, develop a treatment plan, and reach out to treatment facilities.

In contrast to the traditional “do or don’t do, comply or don’t comply” probation model, STAR sees itself as a person-centered program model that meets each participant where they’re at, in a way that resonates with them. They stay in regular communication with their clientele and treatment facility partners, with their probation officer, clinician, and peer support specialist generally visit treatment centers weekly, or more often if needed. If a participant arrives at onsite and expresses interest in leaving, STAR will check in more often and make sure he or she feels supports. “Everyone knows, on an intellectual level, that a sober program is a good thing. But it’s very different when you’re actually packing the bags and leaving behind your comfort zone. Even if that comfort zone is problematic.”

In addition, the STAR team regularly visits The Empowerment Center and other treatment facilities to do interactive journaling, through an evidence-based journaling series called The Courage to Change.

Andrew Sherbondy’s Path

Andrew never thought he would be a law enforcement officer. His father was a Federal Probation Officer, and Andrew knew he didn’t fit the mold for a cop. He was going to be a counselor. But, he saw the level of effort is dad put into meet people, and how he pushed for treatment focused supervision in his own way. For Andrew, “that planted a seed in my wanting to be involved in something more solution-focused, being able to help people, but also help the community at the same time.”

In 2020, Sherbondy started to put together application and bring together contact in the treatment community to make the STAR Program happen. He consulted with different treatment providers, including Crossroads and The Empowerment Center, to get feedback on how to approach the program and position it for success. He also looked to similar programs in other states for guidance.

reno nevada's star program staff in office with wood table

What’s Next for STAR?

STAR is a grant-funded pilot program, the first of its kind in Northern Nevada. The program is working to demonstrate the efficacy of treatment focused, multidisciplinary efforts in probation supervision. They aim to change minds – and show how approaching criminal behavior as a symptom of addiction and other mental health issues simply works better. By including an interdisciplinary team and, as a result of their grant funding, maintaining a small and manageable caseload – they’re able to work with participants in a more meaningful way.

While STAR just opened its doors last October, they’re already looking to grow. They’re hoping that by demonstrating success, they can increase their funding, team size, and the number of participants they support. In addition to their partnerships with The Empowerment Center and other treatment centers in our community, STAR was recently awarded a grant to open a recovery house and community of their own. Their intention is to create a sober living environment for people leaving treatment centers, but not quite ready for independent living. Like The Empowerment Center and Marvel Way, Sherbondy understands that the opioid and housing crises are intertwined and wants to address them both, together.


Meet Marvel Way Resident – Noell Whaley

“Marvel Way is a place that allows me to prioritize my goals: recovery, raising healthy kids, and getting through school. I feel so supported, because I can afford this.”

Noell Whaley’s substance of choice was alcohol and she’s been sober for 5 years. She lives in a 2-bedroom apartment at Marvel Way with her kids, ages 4 and 5. Marvel Way supports her recovery because it allows her to focus on earning her Masters in Social Work from University of Nevada, Reno. She’s completing an internship along with her schooling at Sai Mental Health and also has work cleaning houses.

noell whaley and her kids sitting on living room couch with artwork in background

Noell’s Journey

“In hindsight,” Noell explains, “I definitely had addictive problems and tendencies, but I was completely unaware of it for so many years.” She was a very heavy drinker, and alcohol was incorporated into most of her lifestyle and social world: martinis, sake and sushi, and day drinking at BBQs. But, when she had her daughter, everything changed. “It’s something that people don’t talk about enough. When you have an existential event, like having a baby and postpartum depression,” things can shift. When she wasn’t able to breastfeed her daughter, she though “I can just drink.” In the early months of motherhood, her addiction quickly progressed from alcohol abuse to alcohol dependency. She was hiding alcohol everywhere.

When her daughter was 5 months old, Noell checked herself into a treatment center. It was a 30-day program that included a 10-day hospital stay. When she got out, she relapsed for a couple weeks before returning to recovery. Her kids are her meaning and purpose and inspire her sobriety. She “looks at women who go into treatment when they have kids, and you don’t do that unless you have so much love.”

collage with yoga pose in center

Noell’s Recovery & Social Work Masters

Before having children, Noell worked in casinos. “It’s a very soul sucking job,” she explained, and she knew a career change needed to be part of building a healthier lifestyle for herself and her family.

While Noell’s recovery included AA at first, she found the program wasn’t the right fit for her. At first she thought it would, because it’s all about steps – and she’s an organized person who loves steps! But she found herself having a “fumbly” recovery and relapsing on cannabis and Adderall. She felt like she didn’t belong, and decided the program’s rigidity and higher-power focus wasn’t for her.

Instead, she found a close relationship with her therapist. Together, they built an intensive outpatient program that fit her better. Her program was centered on therapy and school. She also carried a note in her bra that reminded her why she needed to stay sober. While she wasn’t successful in all of her classes at first, she learned how to study better, earned a BA in psychology with a minor in Addiction Treatment Services, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work from UNR.

Noell was inspired by her therapist to study for a career in mental health because she wanted to gain her therapist’s level of knowledge, insight, and self-awareness. She’s especially enjoyed learning about systems theory in her program. Noell graduates in 2 years. After all she’s been through, she’s excited to incorporate her lived experiences into all that she does as she builds her new career.

noell whaley swimming with her young son and daughter

Noell’s Family & What Marvel Way Means to Her

Noell says she’s never lived in an apartment complex like Marvel Way. Where it feels like a community, and everyone is friendly and wants the best for her kids. She notes, “I think because everybody here has experienced so much darkness, there’s an allyship.”

She loves how Marvel Way is close to the Meadowood Mall, yet on a “cozy, safe little road” that feels almost rural. On their neighborhood walks, her children love watching goats, chickens, and horses. They’re proud to have one of the greenest beds in the Marvel Way community garden. So far this summer, Noell’s family has enjoyed trips to the Wild Island waterpark, watching the Reno Rodeo, and floating the Truckee River with a couple other Marvel Way residents.

When she has her kids, spending quality time with them is her priority. When they’re with their father, Noell focuses on her housecleaning work, class assignments, and internship hours. She appreciates how her affordable Marvel Way apartment, online classes, and flexible work allow her to build her schedule around her kids and around her family’s future.

headshot of noell whaley

Noell’s Advice

Noell suggests that everyone find the treatment program that works best for them. While so many people have gained so much from AA, for her, it took time to realize that “THE program” wasn’t the only program, and wasn’t the option that worked best for her personally.

She also acknowledges that it can be hard to know you have choices when you’re caught in addiction and feeling desperate. “Safety is a spectrum, the system isn’t perfect, and some people and treatment centers are just not safe.” She recommends being mindful of who you trust and finding the right people to help you on your recovery journey.

outside of Marvel Way sober living apartments in Reno, NV

Introducing: Sober Living at Marvel Way

outside of Marvel Way sober living apartments in Reno, NV

Did you know? Sober living is most likely to be sustained in a safe, supportive, and clean environment. Our Marvel Way Apartments do just that!

Last fall, Marvel Way (managed by The Empowerment Center) opened its doors as the first-of-its-kind in Nevada. We’re offering 42 affordable sober living apartments to start, and are excited to begin providing an additional 46 units in Phase II. These 1- and 2-bedroom units are permanent homes for individuals (and their families) who’ve recently completed substance use disorder treatment programs or exited the penal system. They’re designed for residents who are ready to live independently, but could still benefit from a little support. And we’re almost ready to break ground on Phase II – significantly expanding the range of services we’re offering to both new and current residents.

interior of Marvel Way sober living Reno apartment, with modern kitchen in foreground and living room with large window in background

What Marvel Way Offers

At Marvel Way, we’re bringing our residents the services that help them most, in the most convenient place possible – just down the hall. To start out, we offer similar facilities as many other apartment complexes, including a gym, computer lab, community room, and garden boxes. But, understanding the population we serve, we go well beyond these basics.

To ease the transition to a clean and safe living environment, utilities and WiFi are included in rent. A mobile food bank makes monthly visits, assistance with furnishing is provided when needed, and our staff helps arrange for childcare, pet vaccinations, work clothes donations, and more. With the help of Silver Summit’s generous support, we’ve recently purchased a vehicle, so we can assist with transportation to grocery stores and medical appointments. And, Marvel Way is conveniently located near busy bus routes. We see a new apartment as a fresh start and are committed to helping our residents succeed.

On the therapeutic side, we offer AA, NA, and AA Book Study meetings every week. Dr. Brandee Shipman, our Empowerment Center psychiatrist, as well as Dr. Ken Call and Dr. Jen Ross, counselors from UNR, have been available 1-2 days per week for anyone who feels they’d benefit from such support. Each semester, students from the UNR social work program will also be available on site.

group of residents enjoying a community BBQ at Marvel Way sober living apartments in Reno, NV

Building Community

We recognize that Marvel Way is more than just housing, it’s a community of individuals with shared experiences, supporting one another. To encourage connections beyond that simple “hello” in the hallways, we’re bringing residents together through social gatherings.

So far, we’ve hosted a December holiday party, Easter egg hunt, ice cream social, and – just last month – a community BBQ. Our June BBQ was well attended, with housing Manager Richard Brown serving up 40+ burgers and 40+ dogs. We were fortunate to have a beautiful spring day to celebrate together, and good times were had by all!

Drawing of Marvel Way site layout and plan for Reno sober living apartment complex

What’s Next? Marvel Way: Phase II

The Empowerment Center is excited to break ground on Phase II of our Marvel Way Complex! Later this summer, we’ll begin construction on a second building, which will allow us to provide an additional 46 affordable housing units.

What’s more, with the extra space, we’re looking forward to opening an onsite medical clinic. While we’re still finalizing our plans, our goal is to have at least 1 primary care provider, 1 mental health provider, and a nurse on site. With our new clinic, we’ll be able to provide even more convenient access to many types of medical care, including Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) – the practice of using medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to help patients sustain recovery. In addition to Marvel Way residents, we’ll offer outpatient serves to all Empowerment Center graduates and, perhaps one day, to the broader community.

For Marvel Way residents, Phase II will introduce several additional perks. The completed complex layout includes a playground, dog park, expanded community garden, BBQ zone, and a seating areas for everyone to enjoy. Our goal is two-fold: we’ll support our residents with traditional supportive services and provide a living environment that just feels nice.

community garden at the empowerment center

What’s New at The Empowerment Center?

The Empowerment Center is dedicated to helping women who suffer from substance use disorders restore their dignity and quality of life. Since you’ve last heard from us, a lot has changed! We’ve been expanding client services, updating our programming, providing medication-assisted treatment onsite, and remodeling our rooms to better support everyone who walks through our doors. Here’s what our updates look like:

Our 5-Month Pathway to Success

Did you know? The Empowerment Center recently increased our clients’ stays from 4 to 5 months.

Why is this important? There’s so much that goes into helping women in recovery, especially women who’ve recently experienced homelessness or incarceration, and we were finding that our 4-month program felt a little bit rushed. By expanding to 5 months, The Empowerment Center is reducing recidivism and increasing clients staying in recovery. We’ve updated our signature program, so when each client comes in, we have more time to evaluate her unique needs: from housing to medical, including primary care, women’s care, peer support, counselors, therapists, and workforce development. Our new first month focuses on the clinical: how we can help our clients become healthier humans, longer term? We’re waiting until our clients are fully acclimated and medically stable before beginning workforce development.

When our clients arrive, they’re given an orientation manual, laying out everything they’ll accomplish in their 5 months with Empowerment. They read through the expectations of each phase, begin working with their providers on key sections, and set up appointments with on- and off-site providers. When they advance to Phase II, we start talking to them about reentering the workforce. We begin by helping our clients identify employment and educational goals they’re excited about. Then, we tailor resume building, interviewing, and hard/soft skill development to match their aspirations! We’re working with Noelle Gravallese, our new Director of Clinical Services, to ensure that our upgraded 5-month program amplifies every woman’s opportunities for success.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

We’re using the latest research on the population we serve to incorporate an evidence-based model to end cycles of homelessness and continued use. An important piece of this is MAT: using medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to help patients sustain recovery.

We’ve brought in an on-site psychiatric provider to prescribe and administer MAT: Dr. Brandee Shipman, our new Medical Director. This separates us from other programs and allows us to offer a higher level of support. Brandee believes that although the physical and the mental have long been separate in our health system, continuing to work this way would do everyone a disservice. She explains, “By integrating the two, we can help people live their best lives.” Dr. Shipman splits her time between our Empowerment Center treatment center, our Marvel Way sober-living apartments, and her private practice. As we expand our apartment complex at Marvel Way, we aim to add an on-site outpatient program to assist clients at every stage of recovery.

Room Remodels

At The Empowerment Center, we recognize that, for 5 months, our rooms are our clients’ homes. And, studies show that a clean and safe living environment encourages success in recovery from addiction and other psychiatric disorders.

With the help of generous donations from Molena, Silver Summit, and other supporters, we’re giving a refresh to every room. We’re repainting walls, replacing beds and comforters, installing new vanities and mirrors in bathrooms, and adding TVs, mini-fridges, and other furnishings. We’re excited about how our rooms have turned out – but still have a few spaces left to go. We’re currently fundraising (email link) to complete our room remodels

Garden Update

There’s overwhelming evidence that gardening, spending time outdoors, and eating well are supportive of mental health. Gardening is tranquil, allows us to modify and improve our environment, and encourages the appreciation a predictable cycle of life in times of rapid change.

Our community gardens at The Empowerment Center and Marvel Way do all of this – and are just one of the many ways we incorporate experiential programing to help our clients develop balanced lifestyles. We work with our clients to determine which vegetables and herbs they’re most excited to grow, discuss what does best in our desert environment, take care of plants together, and enjoy their bounty throughout the season. This year, we’re excited to watch our tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers thrive.

Charity Golf Tournament

On August 25th, the Empowerment Center will receive the proceeds from the 4th Annual Mountain West Builders Charity Golf Tournament. Marvel Way was constructed by Mountain West just last year, and we’re looking forward to partnering with them at this event!

The tournament will be held at the Toiyabe Golf Club. While tournament registrations are already full, they’re still looking for supporters to sponsor designated holes (2 available,  $600 each), silent auction items, and raffle prizes. Visit Mountain West’s website for more information.