About Us

Steppingstone Inc. - Providing Tools to Help Others Grow

Steppingstone's History

In 1972, when alcohol addiction was less understood and the efficacy of treatment was still considered controversial, Steppingstone’s founders began operating the innovative Men’s Recovery Home in the City of Fall River, Massachusetts. This residential program offered a sober living environment combined with a structured treatment program for men who possessed chronic alcohol use problems and expanded to include treatment for other substance use problems shortly following. After proving this treatment model was effective, Steppingstone opened three additional residential treatment programs in Bristol County – the Fall River Women’s Therapeutic Community in 1985, the New Bedford Women’s Therapeutic Community in 1998 and the Transition House program for men with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders in 2019. Both women’s programs also offer specialized services to pregnant and post-partum women and their infants.

While residents of these programs achieved many positive outcomes while in treatment, many expressed a need for continued support after they left the program. To provide continued support in a less structured environment, Steppingstone opened two graduate housing programs. The William B. Webster Program in Fall River was launched in 1985 and the New Bedford Graduate Program in New Bedford in 2002.

Through working with the population, other areas of need for consumers in our care became evident. Steppingstone staff struggled with locating permanent housing for residents leaving residential or graduate housing. To address this need Steppingstone developed its first housing program in 1996. The Next Step Home program began offering scattered-site housing and supportive services to approximately 50 homeless individuals and families with substance use, mental health and other chronic disabilities. This program has been enormously successful in achieving its goals, receiving HUD’s Best Practice award and sparking the development of three additional permanent housing programs – the Stone Residence in 2004, Welcome Home in 2012 and Home First in 2016. Steppingstone continues to operate these programs, which provide approximately 100 units of permanent supportive housing in Fall River and New Bedford.

To expand Steppingstone’s continuum of care and further meet the needs of homeless individuals, Steppingstone opened the First Step Inn in 2003 to provide 20 emergency shelter beds to homeless individuals in Fall River. This was later expanded to 50 beds as the shelter moved to a large state-of-the-art facility in downtown Fall River which provides comprehensive on-site services to those seeking emergency shelter. Steppingstone continued developing innovative programming to meet the needs of this population with Project FAIHR (Focused Achievements in Housing and Recovery), which began providing wrap-around services to chronically homeless individuals and families in 2014, combined with mental health and substance use treatment, housing placement and stabilization support.

To increase access to and availability of quality substance use treatment services in Bristol County, Steppingstone launched its first Outpatient Clinic in Fall River in 1997. Since then, the Clinic has scaled up its capacity and services to continue meeting the needs of our community, becoming licensed to provide mental health treatment in 2009 and expanding to open a location in New Bedford in 2019, where it also began offering critical Medication Assisted Treatment and wrap-around services.

When the opportunity arose in 2012 to add offender re-entry support and treatment for individuals with substance use disorders leaving incarceration. Steppingstone launched its first offender reentry program serving Bristol County. These services have also expanded in recent years to include serving individuals in the community on parole or probation or at high risk for reincarceration.

As peer support became recognized as an effective method for supporting individuals striving to recover, the Agency added peer-based recovery support to its continuum of care in 2016, opening the Peer2Peer Recovery Support Center in Fall River. It also expanded to add Recovery Coach services in both New Bedford and Fall River in 2018.