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VIDEO: Stepping Stone of San Diego to celebrate 35th anniversary

SAN DIEGO -- After marking the 10th anniversary of its state-of-the-art alcohol and drug treatment facility in 2010, Stepping Stone of San Diego is gearing up to celebrate yet another milestone, the 35th anniversary of the agency’s founding.

To celebrate its three-plus decades of service to the San Diego community, the organization plans to host two special events: an Open House and Proclamation Ceremony on Friday, June 3 from 3-5 pm at the orgnanization's treatment facility; and "Live It Up", an outdoor extravaganza featuring a car show, fashion show, archival exhibit, and food on Saturday, June 4, from 2 to 6 pm.

The organization's board of directors, staff and alumni invite the entire community to attend the events and show their support for Stepping Stone.

"In the few months that I have been involved with Stepping Stone through service on the board of directors, I have learned what a truly life-changing, special organization it is," said Benny Cartwright, a member of the board of directors. "For 35 years, the organization has quietly been serving members of our community who are at a time in their life of greatest need.

"It is so important that all of us give a little bit back - in some way, Stepping Stone has touched us all, be it personally or by saving the life of a friend or loved one."

Cartwright noted that the outdoor celebration event will be a fun way for people to celebrate the work of the organization.

"We have pulled out all the stops for the 'Live It Up' Garden Party, and it will be an event that all will enjoy," Cartwright said. "With a fashion show, sexy models, entertainment, and gourmet food in a gorgeous setting, participants are certain to have a great time - this will be a party like no other. By supporting Stepping Stone you are supporting our friends and loved ones in recovery, and truly, supporting the community. Please join us!"

Stepping Stone was founded in 1976 after a member of the recovery community learned that the National Council on Alcoholism had been receiving 12 to 14 calls per day for help from LGBT alcoholics. The first meeting to start and open a recovery home for gays and lesbians was held in February of that year at Metropolitan Community Church.

The founding group opened the first residential treatment center in 1979 in the Golden Hill neighborhood, then moving it to the site of its current location on Central Avenue in City Heights.

During her 17-year tenure as administrator and later executive director, Cheryl Houk successfully expanded Stepping Stone’s treatment and outreach services tailored toward the unique needs of the LGBT community. Her fundraising efforts culminated in a capitol campaign for the residential treatment facility that opened in 2000.

Today, Stepping Stone is nationally recognized for its innovative client-oriented service and superior evidence-based treatment approach.

"During the 35 years of Stepping Stone’s existence thousands of people have been positively affected by our services," said John deMiranda, president and CEO of Stepping Stone. "As our logo states, we are about the business of 'saving lives' one day at a time."

"The celebrations this year are an opportunity for any and all of those clients, family members and friends, as well as former board members and employees to step up and reconnect with this important community institution," continued deMiranda. "Stepping Stone started as an idea that LGBT people were entitled to the best addiction treatment services available. That idea still guides our work today, 35 years later."

Through its facility, the organization serves those affected by addiction, co-occurring disorders, and/or HIV/AIDS. The six-month program employs a social model, which incorporates one-on-one therapy as well as group work and self-advocacy.

Stepping Stone says that despite a number of economic challenges, which have included significant state and county budget cuts, the agency has continued to deliver high quality and affordable drug and alcohol services. To help support the continuance of its work, Stepping Stone hopes to raise at least $80,000 through its 35th Anniversary celebrations.

In conjunction with the 35th anniversary of its founding, the agency’s goal is to promote alcohol and drug recovery, celebrate “life,” and raise $80,000 for Stepping Stone’s recovery and HIV/AIDS support services.

Tickets for 'Live It Up' are $25 and can be purchased online; at the administrative office located at 3767 Central Ave.; or at the door.

The 'Live It Up' Garden Party will be held at the estate of board chairman Tom Reise, 3596 Sydney Place.

For information about sponsorship and endorsement opportunities, and ways to underwrite the organization’s services email or call Bixi Craig at bixi@steppingstonesd.org or (619) 278-0777, ext. 115.

For information about admission to Stepping Stone programs, meetings, and support services, click HERE.