Rochelle Recovery Center now open to help area residents with addiction

On Aug. 22, Sauk Valley Voices of Recovery announced the opening of the Rochelle Recovery Center at 242 May Mart Drive in Rochelle.

‘This hopefully is a place where people can come and become comfortable’

ROCHELLE — On Aug. 22, Sauk Valley Voices of Recovery announced the opening of the Rochelle Recovery Center at 242 May Mart Drive in Rochelle. 

Those recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction can call 779-707-0151 for information about meetings at the location and in the area. A new Narcotics Anonymous meeting will be held at the location on Mondays at 7 p.m. A Big Book study will be held on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at the location. The Big Book Compendium is a recovery program.

Sauk Valley Voices of Recovery is a recovery community based out of Dixon. For the past three years, it has covered Lee, Whiteside and Ogle counties and recently started coverage of addiction needs in DeKalb County.  

“Our organization believes that a big component of recovery is reconnecting with a positive community,” SVVOR Executive Director Gerald Lott said. “We do a lot of taking people to treatment. And then when those people come back, their problems are still there. Three years ago we set out to build a connection with that community. Every month we do a newsletter to let people in the community know what other people in recovery are doing in the area. We do monthly social events that are free of charge. We've taken people bowling and ax throwing and hiking. We've had sober dances. We support getting meetings going. Our goal is to not support any one path to recovery. It's not AA or NA or Celebrate Recovery or yoga. We want to lift the entire harbor of recovery. In doing so, all boats rise.”

Upon the start of a new funding cycle in July, SVVOR was tasked with setting up two recovery-oriented system of care (ROSC) councils for Lee-Whiteside counties and Ogle/DeKalb counties. Rochelle native Daniel Stewart will have an office at the Rochelle Recovery Center and will serve as the Ogle/DeKalb ROSC coordinator. 

Stewart’s goal will be to get together a coalition of local stakeholders from hospitals, police departments, businesses and more to look at the area and its addiction needs to try to get it moving in a positive direction. 

“This center is the outgrowth of that,” Lott said. “Part of our grant allowed for Daniel to have an office. We could've had a small office, but we chose a place with a big room attached to it where people could have meetings. Hence, the Rochelle Recovery Center. We've heard from a ton of people and stakeholders in this community that it could use more people to get together to recover and try to find hope. I've been sober for 15 years. Daniel has been sober for about two years. This is stuff that we've lived."

Stewart attended Rochelle Township High School. He’s a product of SVVOR, and Lott was the one who drove him to get treatment in Aurora. Upon completing treatment, he moved into a healthy living space and got involved in the 12-Step program, which he’s still doing today. He got in touch with Lott again during his recovery and got involved with SVVOR. 

“Long story short, here we are,” Stewart said. “I'm really excited. We've had really good success in DeKalb meeting with stakeholders. I'll be meeting with Rochelle's stakeholders. Every time we meet somebody and tell them what we're doing for this ROSC council, they pave the way for other people to get involved. There's not a lot of places to recover here in Rochelle. We're not fighting the war on drugs, but we are fighting stigma. Everything that comes with being someone with substance use disorder. I've been to a lot of really good AA meetings in Plano and Aurora. I haven't been to a whole lot here, but I plan to. It's more than just us doing this. It's a statewide initiative. The entire state is building a ROSC council and so are surrounding states.”

SVVOR has a Safe Passage program to get those in need transported to treatment that has helped over 350 people in the past two years. The closest treatment center to the area is about 45 minutes away for people with Medicaid and uninsured, which is generally what SVVOR works with. The organization has put 36,000 miles on cars in the past year driving people to and from treatment.

Stewart called it “extremely meaningful” to be back in his hometown helping people with substance use disorders like him. 

“I really hope to plant some seeds and help people recover,” Stewart said. “And not be ashamed to recover. In the rural area with substance use disorders, there's a lot of shame, guilt and remorse. This hopefully is a place where people can come and become comfortable.”

Lott said the Rochelle Recovery Center space is available to anybody in the community who wants to start a meeting. A new Rochelle location for those recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction will fill a void in the area for those in need. 

“The biggest problem is transportation,” Lott said. “If you have a good car and nothing but money, you can go to 100 meetings a week traveling the four surrounding counties. If you live 5-6 blocks from here and only have a bicycle, that's a different game. And it gets cold. We hope that this base can be a meeting house, and one of many, for hundreds if not thousands of people. We want people to see that we are having good meetings here and other places in the community want to have meetings. Recovering out loud is what we do, so people can see that it doesn't tear down the neighborhood.”

SVVOR offers a number of group activities for those in recovery to come together in a positive environment including basketball, bicycle riding, running and art. 

It will also host Northern Illinois Recover-Con 2023 on Saturday, Oct. 7 at Northern Illinois University’s Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center. The event is free and celebrates recovery. It will feature esteemed thought leaders and partners passionate about recovery from substance use disorder. Visit or call 779-707-0151 for details. 

Lott and Stewart said the COVID-19 pandemic compounded alcoholism and drug addiction issues. In 2021, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) documented about 110,000 people dying of overdoses. 

“A lot of issues came together to just make this entire field explode,” Lott said. “We went from about eight calls a week prior to COVID-19 to help somebody get into treatment to upwards of 20 calls a week. The numbers have definitely increased. If you follow the logic that addiction flows from a lack of connection and look at us being told for 18 months to stay in the house and away from each other, there's a conclusion to draw. People now have an excuse to stay home behind the computer screen and do whatever they're doing and nobody knows.”

Lott said the expectation is that SVVOR’s grant funding will go on for a considerable amount of time to provide recovery services and to build the recovery-oriented system in the community. When SVVOR started its Safe Passage program, the number of places people could go to and ask for and receive help increased. The Rochelle community now has one more place like that. 

“It's potential for the entire community,” Lott said. “When someone asks for help, is it going to be available? I want people to know that if they can get here to our new center and ask for help, somebody is going to help them."