Addicts, Convicts to Get Small-Business Hope Via County Rehab Center

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Kristin Gaspar in her county office.
County staff will begin searching for a location to build a residential vocational rehabilitation center where clients operate self-sustaining businesses as a means of recovery from addiction and criminal behavior, following a unanimous vote Tuesday of the Board of Supervisors.

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The move is the latest step in fulfilling Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar’s dream of opening a center modeled after The Other Side Academy in Salt Lake City, which she says helps clients become self-sufficient.

Gaspar who is running for Congress, announced her plan with few details during her “State of the County” address in February, when she said the county had secured two $1 million donations to create the facility. She said it would be built “and sustained without ongoing taxpayer money.”

Details were scant again on Tuesday.

David Durocher, managing director of The Other Side Academy, spoke to the board about how he turned his life around at the Delancey Street Foundation — a residential program in San Francisco on which the Salt Lake City organization is based.

Durocher, who is from Orange County, spent much of his adult life in jail and faced addiction. It wasn’t until he went to Delancey Street that he was able to take control of his life, he said.

“Even the most broken people can reinvent themselves and become somebody they’ve never known,” Durocher said.

The minimum stay at The Other Side Academy is two years, compared to the 30-, 60-, or 90-day stays common at other rehabilitation centers.

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“Students,” as they’re known, learn self-sufficiency not through therapy sessions or counseling, but through the hard work of helping run a business such as a cafe or a moving company.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore and District Attorney Summer Stephan lauded the program.

“It’s a model that’s tested and provides dignity and second chances,” said Stephan, whose office has referred people to similar programs.

— City News Service

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