Civic Engagement Profiles -Bryan Cressey, Cressey & Company

Civic Engagement Profiles -Bryan Cressey, Cressey & Company

December 23, 2015

The definition of civic engagement is the following: individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.

Our third profile is Bryan Cressey, Cressey & Company, who introduces us to Above and Beyond:

I have recently realized the culmination of a dream of mine, and several others.  It is a storefront addiction treatment center, built in a poor section of Chicago, which will allow the homeless and others addicted to drugs or alcohol, walk-in access, at no cost, to outstanding quality treatment.

Two important theories are behind this : 

  1. To intervene earlier in people's lives, thereby saving many from the ravages of living with these devastating conditions, and providing easy access to care (compared to applying for residential treatment which takes time, qualification etc.) which most of these individuals will never seek.  Earlier intervention will prevent deaths too.
  2. Our goals for are clients are far different than possibly any other treatment center in the United States - we will NOT measure success by our clients' sobriety at 60 days or 6 months as most centers do; rather, we will only count success when, after 3 years, our clients have a job, housing, are sober and reunited with their family.  This is a life transformed, and life transformations are what we are after. Without housing, a job, and family, sobriety is very unlikely to last. But with these components all achieved, the odds are far better that the person will be permanently successful.

To accomplish this, Above and Beyond will also provide a job readiness, coaching and interviewing process which has been proven with a population of homeless persons, to achieve jobs for most of them.  Above and Beyond is importing this program and its founder to provide the same outcomes to our clients.  With respect to shelter, there is housing available in Chicago that this population qualifies for, but they don't know it or can't find it.  Above and Beyond will have a case manager to find them housing, so that they can concentrate on working their recovery program and getting a job.

Above and Beyond opened it doors to patients November 12, and Governor Rauner visited that day to learn what Above and Beyond is doing, and to recognize its exceptional staff.

How Did this Happen?

In 1994 a small group of men walked out the doors of a residential treatment center on Chicago's West Side. The residence they lived in was called Cressey House, built that year.  Two had been homeless, and addicted to drugs and alcohol, yet now they were clean, and had jobs. Over the next 20 years, they met monthly with others who had successfully overcome their addiction and poverty and homelessness through Cathedral Shelter/Cressey House, and as they discussed their recovery and their futures, they also spoke of a dream. Their dream was to intervene earlier in the lives of those addicted and homeless, by providing a convenient, storefront center where they lived, staffed by compassionate persons who had formerly been in just the same circumstances, and by counselors who could offer them a path to recovery, dignity and happiness.

The men shared that dream with Bryan Cressey, who had stayed in touch with them, and in 2014 Bryan decided it was time to turn that dream into reality.  Locating a streetfront space under the El in Chicago's West Side, he knew it was the right place, but it needed renovation. And opening any healthcare facility is a difficult, arduous process. After months of not knowing who would implement the construction, design, and hiring for the treatment center, Bryan was approached by an experienced addiction treatment professional who had heard of the dream, and was "on fire" to make it reality.

Gwenn Williams led the construction, and drove the lengthy process of licensing the new center, named Above and Beyond (to connote where individuals' lives could go via this program).  In October 2015 Executive Director Daniel Hostetler was hired, bringing a background of success in business and building organizations.  Above and Beyond finally had the people to enact all three elements of its vision for individual transformation: a jobs coaching/self esteem building program, a housing-finding professional, and a multi-pronged treatment program offering individual pathways most likely to succeed for each person.

Above and Beyond received its first patients November 12, 2015, the day of Governor Rauner's visit, and estimates it will serve 4000 individuals in the next year.  It will celebrate the many who will succeed in transforming their lives through its programs and caring staff, and will continue loving and reaching out to those who continue to suffer addiction and homelessness.

How You Can Help

Above and Beyond is eager to receive help in carrying out its mission - expertise, volunteers, or charitable contributions which will allow Above and Beyond to transform lives. Thanks for your support!

   Above and Beyond
   2942 W. Lake Street
   Chicago, IL 60612

  * Above and Beyond is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation