A view of the Steeping Stone of San Diego facility in City Heights.
A view of the Steeping Stone of San Diego facility in City Heights.

A nearly 40-year-old treatment center for alcoholism and drug addiction among LGBT community members may close if new donors do not step forward in coming months.

Stepping Stone of San Diego, which provides treatment for 53 people at its City Heights center and two sober-living homes, is suffering from reduced federal and state funding and fewer contributions from community members in the wake of the 2008 recession.

“It’s a desperate situation,” said Mike Seymour, volunteer treasurer of the nonprofit. “If we don’t get an influx of money….I don’t know how we can keep it open.”

Seymour said Stepping Stone and the Pemarro Recovery Center,  a smaller detox facility in Ramona, have cut costs but still need approximately $100,000 to avoid closing. “If we’re gone, this community will miss us,” he said.

The organization treated 500 people over the past two years. Though founded in 1976 to help the LGBT community, the recovery center now treats all individuals.

Among them is Vanessa, who asked not to use her last name. The mother of two said Stepping Stone’s 10-day detoxification program followed by six months in a sober-living home saved her life. “I had a group of family members who hid my alcoholism,” she recalled, until a friend sent her to Stepping Stone.

Stepping Stone became a part of Seymour’s life when his son went through the recovery program for a methamphetamine addiction. “Stepping Stone saved my son’s life,” he said.

Seymour, who owns a landscaping business, and fellow board member Peter Stafford, an executive recruiter, are planning to bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles beginning May 31 to raise visibility and funding. They’re welcoming donations via the website PeteAndMikeRide.com.

“We’ve been on a lot of boards, but this is hands-on. You do save lives,” Stafford said.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.