In 2023, Roxanne DeCarlo celebrated her 9th year as Executive Director of The Empowerment Center! In her time with TEC, she’s led us through quite the journey – from our early years as a co-ed halfway house, to supporting women struggling with alcoholism and addiction, to expanding our services to include long-term independent sober living at Marvel Way.
This month, we sat down to chat with Roxanne about her work, her life, and her plans to continue to strengthen everything we do. We’re excited to give you the chance to get to know her better.
Roxanne grew up in South Lake Tahoe and has lived in Reno for 22 years. She’s a mother of 4, a grandmother of 3, a leader of the Life Church’s women’s ministry, and enthusiastic about her local hiking group. Before joining the Empowerment Center, DeCarlo worked in marketing and real estate.
Her husband was one of the founding members The Empowerment Center’s Board (then called The Launching Pad) and asked her to join as a Board Member in 2010 to help move the mission forward. When the Executive Director position opened up, as one of the more active Board Members, Roxanne smoothly transitioned into the role.
Transforming The Empowerment Center
Back then, The Empowerment Center was more of a halfway house. There were rules to follow, including staying clean and sober, but no structure in place to help residents adhere to them. One of DeCarlo’s first tasks was to implement a treatment program to support clients through their stays. “And that’s really where it started,” Roxanne explains. “We gave our clients the ability to create that first foundation with a 30-Day Blackout, where they couldn’t leave the property without staff.” Her treatment program began with one intern as a counselor, growing to today include multiple counselors, a mental health provider, and lot more structure.
Implementing the Workforce Development Program became a focus, giving clients the tools to not only find jobs, but build careers they were interested in, advance their skillsets, and identify and work towards their goals. As the treatment program grew, more funding became available to sustain it.
What Inspires Roxanne
Addiction runs in Roxanne’s family and making a difference in recovery is a personal venture for her. “Everybody here has such a heart for the individuals we serve,” she explains, “so everything they do just comes from the heart and makes for such an encouraging journey.”
When asked about her favorite moments at The Empowerment Center, DeCarlo shares, “my absolute favorite thing is, while women are often nervous when they show up, eventually their guards come down and they realize that they’re in a safe, supportive place. And then you begin to see their personalities emerge.” They show up as funny, as smart, as good cooks. Says Roxanne, “I just love getting to know them as individuals.”
From here, by addressing the underlying causes of addiction, including mental health, The Empowerment Center’s treatment program aims to create lasting change. Roxanne is proud to be a part of it. “We have the ability to create generational change when we look at addiction at its root and work to reunite women with their families, with their children. That’s why we do it.”
What’s Next for Roxanne & The Empowerment Center?
At The Empowerment Center, 2023 was a year of growth. We celebrated our first year running 42 sober living apartments at Marvel Way, offering a Nevada First balance of independent living and on-site support. We broke ground on Marvel Way Phase II, which will bring 46 additional units on board. We improved programming at The Empowerment Center, increasing from a 4- to 5-month treatment schedule.
For 2024, we’re excited to announce that we have even MORE in the works! The Empowerment Center recently received funding to build a new treatment center, just across the street from Marvel Way. Here, we’ll more than double the number of women we serve, expand mental health services, and offer more individualized treatment programs. Tune in next week for details – and for our next-step plans for the current Empowerment Center treatment center!