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Meet 14th District Unsung Heroine Stephanie Zwilling

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

As a clinical therapist in her North Shores-base private practice, Stephanie has been working with teens, young adults and their families for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in program development, staff supervision, clinical therapy, crisis management and program administration.

In 2017, Stephanie founded Providence Farm, a community for young adult men in recovery from substance abuse and mental health disorders. Providence farm was developed in response to seeing young adults in the Chicagoland area return home from out-of-state treatment programs, and struggle to re-integrate and create recovery capital in the communities they call home.

As a Northbrook-based therapist, Stephanie was often saddened watching clients who wished to return home to the North Shore from treatment or sober-living environments, but has no community to support them. Research is clear that a supportive fellowship of other recovering young people - connection - is the single greatest asset is sustained recovery. Without connection, and face with integrating a sober lifestyle alone, clients were struggling. Supporting recovering young people and their families became the inspiration for Providence.

Paving a path for a recovery home in the affluent North Shore communities was often met with strong community resistance. "NIMBY" (Not in My Backyard) rhetoric, fear and stigma surrounding people with substance use disorders posed significant barriers to achieving special permitting necessary to move forward. Despite this, through the dedication of supporters and neighbor education, the proposal received overwhelming support by Village of Northbrook trustees when it came before them for a vote.

Stephanie hopes that partnership between Providence Farm and the Village of Northbrook helps change the dialogue about how communities can create space for residents who need extra support.

The Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award recognizes 18 women, one from each district of Cook County and one county-wide, for their often unrecognized contributions to the community. This annual event is observed every March, in conjunction with Women's History Month.

Learn more about Providence Farm:

Read more about the other Unsung Heroines here:

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