News

Gala raises funds for treatment

After two years of COVID postponements, Haymarket Center’s first annual gala was an astounding success. The event brought together more than 450 business leaders, community supporters, legislative allies, and philanthropists for important conversations on substance use treatment and to raise critical funds to support access.

Actor Rob Lowe delivered the keynote address. In his address, he praised the work that Haymarket does and talked about his own struggles with substance use.

“When I started my journey, my biggest fear was a wouldn’t have any fun anymore because I was 26 when I gave up all that stuff,” he explained in an interview with CBS Chicago anchor Irika Sargent, who served as the gala’s master of ceremonies. “I’ve had more fun, I’ve had more good times, I’ve had more laughs than I ever had when I was out ‘having fun.’ So, for me it’s just to empower people to make that first step and to begin that road to the lives they were meant to have.”

The gala also featured an awards ceremony for notable supporters of Haymarket. Dr. Dan Sullivan of Edward-Elmhurst Health, Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris, the staff of Rush University, and entrepreneurs Dick and Sharon Portillo were each honored for their support for the Center and for their advocacy efforts.

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2022 Haymarket Gala. Special thanks to Master of Ceremonies Irika Sargent, Event Chair Jerry Reinsdorf, Co-Chairs Stephen Davis and Harmony Harrington, the Host Committee, and Event Planning Committee. 

View photos from the event here.

Patients Find Renewed Purpose Through Therapeutic Communities

When patients come to Haymarket for treatment, our objective is to treat the whole person in their journey from substance use disorder – including their physical and behavioral health. But we go even further in order to give our patients a renewed outlook and sense of purpose. To this end, Haymarket Center has been implementing practices of Therapeutic Community into residential treatment.

Therapeutic community (TC) is a residential, group-based approach to treating substance use disorders. In a therapeutic community, patients develop a series of routines that are designed to foster long-term coping mechanisms for mental illness and substance use disorders. Haymarket, after a series of trainings and research into ways to improve the experiences of patients in our care, adopted these practices in 2021. These routines are executed in the context of group-living and include morning and evening house meetings, job assignments, group sessions, scheduled personal time, recreation, and individual counseling. By practicing these routines in a group environment, patients are able to develop both a stronger sense of interpersonal behavior and a renewed sense of identity outside of their respective disorder.

Tone Sirbas, Assistant Clinical Director, explained how this approach is put into practice at Haymarket.
“When a new client arrives on the unit, they are greeted by an orientation team member and assigned a big sister or brother,” she explained. “During the first week they are oriented to the unit and will assist with chores assigned to their big sister/brother. During their 2nd week they are assigned to a team on which they will work throughout their stay. As they progress successfully through treatment, they will have the opportunity to be voted into a coordinator position. Eventually, if the opportunity arises and they have shown leadership capabilities, they may be voted into the peer leader position. This process allows the clients to take ownership of their unit and their behavior while teaching job and leadership skills.”

Perhaps the key benefit to therapeutic communities is the ability for patients to set their own goals regarding their recovery journey and personal development. Through group collaboration and counseling with trusted and trained counselors, patients are able to manage their emotions, build back self-esteem that may have been damaged prior to getting help, and develop positive coping mechanisms to maintain their path on their recovery journey.

Therapeutic communities are just one of many ways that Haymarket Center provides holistic and comprehensive treatment for those with substance use disorders.

Success beyond treatment: Leonard G.

For almost fifty years, Haymarket Center has been the starting point for countless people in their recovery from substance use disorders. One of those people is Leonard G., who after coming to Haymarket is happily living a life that he, not drugs or alcohol, is in firm control of. This is his story.

“My name is Leonard Green, and I was a past resident at Haymarket drug and rehabilitation program. The year was 2017-2018 in which Haymarket and their experienced staff helped feed and house me while getting me mental health therapy and gainful employment. While my counselor enrolled me into the family enrichment program, a program that educated me on how to improve my chances of being successful in life. The program was very educational. It helped me brush up on my computer skills, taught me about me about how to receive emails, different programs installed on our computers, how to properly dress, and how to communicate during job interviews. Upon successful completion of the family enrichment center program, I was placed into the CTA Second Chance program. I have been employed since September 2019 at CTA infrastructure. Kimberely Watts, Family Enrichment Center Manager, was very instrumental in helping and training me and I truly want to thank her. I have held three different positions at the CTA, and I’m currently employed as a flag worker, and I’m looking towards becoming an instructor or manager.”

Haymarket Opens New Medical Center

Haymarket Center is proud to have opened a new medical center in our West Loop facility! The medical suite allows Haymarket to better provide onsite primary care for our patients. Medical care is provided by a full medical team, including physicians, physicians’ assistants, and nurses, and will treat patients regardless of ability to pay. Our integrated approach to treating physical health, behavioral health, and substance use disorder simultaneously, while also providing recovery support services, helps to ensure the long-term success of our patients.

View more photos of the space below:

Haymarket Heroes: Meet Our Outreach Team

Haymarket Center’s outreach team, works tirelessly to bring much-needed support to people who live with untreated substance use disorders at O’Hare airport, as well as those who are unsheltered.

The fundamental goal of our outreach team is to move people from vulnerable conditions to more stable and secure ones as part of their recovery journey. To this end, the outreach staff has a variety of different responsibilities, from obtaining medical and psychological treatment for those in need to securing housing for those trying to reestablish themselves after distress caused by substance use. This year alone, the outreach team has referred more than 50 people to hospitals for treatment and has moved 85 people from homelessness into stable housing.

When asked about her team’s work, Outreach Manager Pearlene Hudson credited high morale and dedication as driving forces behind their success.

“It has been a challenging year due to Covid restrictions on placement but the dedication from the team and our partners to move clients to a more stable housing environments is phenomenal,” she explained.
“It does bring home the mission statement “Hope Starts Here”.”

We at Haymarket thank the staff of our outreach team for their work in starting people on their journeys towards recovery.

Treating the Whole Person: Tonika’s Story

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and I wanted help.”

Tonika had spent years in a spiral of misfortune. Eventually, her drug use led to an emergency room visit. It was while she was in the hospital that she realized she needed help. She was referred Haymarket Center where staff helped Tonika overcome her substance use disorder, while also addressing her issues of trust and self-worth, which worsened her condition.

At Haymarket Center, we treat the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. We invite you to support our mission by making a donation today.


Haymarket’s approach to treatment is holistic, centered on empathy and repairing every last part of the individual that was harmed by substance use. That includes counseling and group therapy sessions to improve the mental health of our patients, medications and access to primary care to ensure good physical health, and creating a culture of care that lifts and empowers the spirits of those who come to us. All of these factors played a role in supporting Tonika as she began her journey to recovery.

“When I first came to Haymarket, I was so, so nervous, and I had a very hard time trusting people,” Tonika explained. “The staff and my colleagues at Haymarket Center played a huge role in helping me gain some of that self-confidence back.”

Tonika cites her group therapy sessions as a key part of her recovery. In these sessions, Tonika would learn how to identify her triggers and develop coping mechanisms in order to reach the place where she wanted to be.

“Being a part of group therapy sessions helped me understand that the problems I had were shared by others,” Tonika explained. “The support I received in those sessions from my peers and from Haymarket staff made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this struggle.”

When asked about how she feels today, Tonika says the difference is night and day.

“I feel wonderful today,” Tonika said, joyously. “My self-esteem is back, I feel more open and clearer in my heart and my thoughts, and I know that I have purpose. I wouldn’t feel that way were it not for God, my family, and everyone at Haymarket.”

Tonika has come a long way since she was referred to Haymarket. With the support of donors such as yourself, we were able to help her on her path to recovery.

Would you consider making a gift today to support patients like Tonika?


Over the past year, Haymarket has been able to provide treatment, food, clothing and shelter to the 12,000 patients who have come to us in their time of need. We are proud of the things that we have accomplished during this difficult time, but additional support will help maintain excellent care for our patients and prepare for what the future might bring. With your help, we can do just that.

Thank you for considering our invitation to join our community.

Make a gift below:

Living Recovered – McCord Henry’s Fundraiser for Haymarket Center

Five years liberated from my obsession with alcohol. I do not use the word obsession lightly. When you are gripped by booze, it takes over your body, your mind — your life. 

“Am I drinking too much? Can I stop? Do I want to stop?” I would ponder these questions hour-by-hour for years. It’s been 1,821 days since those thoughts ruled my head, and I cannot tell you the freedom I feel having my mind (and my time) back. To be able to consistently wake up and trust myself is a luxury I try not to take for granted. 

On Sunday, October 9, 2022, I will run the Chicago Marathon. I am partnering with the Haymarket Center in Chicago, a nonprofit recovery center, to raise $5,000. You can contribute to our Living Recovered fund by donating directly below. They have been kind enough to set up this page specifically for this campaign. 

I started #livingrecovered to shed light on the disease of addiction and to show another way to recovery. There are multiple paths that lead to addiction, and I believe there are multiple paths out of it. I have found mine. If you are struggling and need assistance, please reach out. Two things to remember: the choice to change can only be made by you, and you are not alone.

Much love,
McCord Henry

Follow McCord’s journey on Instagram at @mccordhenry and @scriptedwit.

Volunteer Highlight: Meet Rebecca

A key but often overlooked part of the Haymarket community is the number of volunteers who assist clinical and administrative staff in fulfilling the mission of our Center. Our volunteers came from many different backgrounds and walks of life, but all are united in their compassion for those needing support in their recovery journeys. 

One such volunteer is Rebecca*, who is among Haymarket’s most dependable and admired volunteers. Rebecca sat down with us for a short interview for this newsletter. 

What initially drew you to Haymarket Center as a volunteer? Why motivates you to continue volunteering?

I knew I wanted to volunteer to give back what was so freely given to me. A friend of mine was volunteering at Haymarket and she loved it. She invited me to come along one day. The clients were so real and open with me, that I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I kept coming back because it was so personally rewarding. To witness and share in the clients’ journeys is a huge honor. To see their bravery in taking honest self-appraisals, their determination to improve their situations, and their willingness to learn, grow and try new things…. – this is hard, HARD work! To share in their experience literally benefits me because it reminds and fuels me to also work to be the best that I can be. When we share our personal investigations with each other, we notice the similarities, and we motivate and learn from each other.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time with Haymarket? If so, please describe it.

I got the very special gift of watching people change. By sticking around for a while, I got to witness clients gain clarity. I got to see them face their fears, lay down some defenses, find some inner strength and resources, reunite with inner selves, and take on some new beliefs and behaviors. I’ve also been lucky enough to watch clients share their strength and knowledge with other clients. The camaraderie and support among clients recovering, healing, and growing together – when they support and care for each other, inspires me.

Based on your experience, what is one resource that you wish Haymarket had in greater supply in order to better serves its patients?

More staff. The staff is incredible! It’s easy to volunteer and come in once/week to pitch in, but the staff is there all the time. The staff are the ones who the clients really attach to and learn from. There is so much need – I wish we could have so much more help. 

Do you volunteer elsewhere in addition to Haymarket? If so, where?
Yes, I’ve volunteered at other mental health and recovery centers… various places when I can.

Passionate individuals like Rebecca are the reason Haymarket Center is able to help those struggling with substance use disorder. If you’re interested in volunteering, please reach out to Sarah English, VP of Development at [email protected].


*Name changed at the request of our volunteer

START Program Offers Hope to Survivors in Recovery

Often when seeking recovery, individuals find themselves in traumatic situations worsened by substance use disorder. At Haymarket Center, all aspects of treatment are considered, especially for those who find themselves victims of human trafficking and those who have turned to sex work. Haymarket Center offers one of the only programs in the country focused on simultaneously treating substance use disorder and trauma associated with human trafficking and sex work.

Through outreach efforts and referrals from other agencies, we can expand access to care by offering trauma services 24-hours a day to women in need of help. Many of these patients enter this program through referrals from the Human Trafficking Hotline, Cook County Sheriff, and clergy, as well as through our Outreach at Chicago’s Prostitution and Trafficking Intervention Court and Bond Court. As participants come in, they meet with the START recovery coach and trauma counselor who provide crisis intervention, assessments, and linkage to on-site services to meet their immediate needs.

“Patients come from being trafficked and move onto sex work because it becomes their way of life,” says Marie Day, Manager on our MOMs unit, “A lot of these patients enter the program on their own because they are tired of the lifestyle and want to make a change.”

Our project trauma counselor and recovery coach provide recovery planning, linkage to services, motivational enhancement, and weekly sessions for patients using evidence-based curriculum. Women are admitted to an appropriate onsite treatment program based on their assessed level of need such as Haymarket’s residential program designed for women with corrections backgrounds or Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program for women.

“In 28 days, we address all aspects of trauma, and it was a pretty wide impact on our patients,” Marie continues, “We see a lot of successful discharges from this program.”

Utilizing the recovery coaching model, the dedicated project recovery coach maintains contact with the patient, even after she leaves Haymarket, for a year, making sure she is connected to health care and other services and supports she needs. The coach will meet with each woman to develop a recovery/re-entry plan; link them to services on site or in the community; encourage them to identify potential relapse triggers; and provide re-engagement into treatment in the event of a drug relapse.

Haymarket Center receives funding for START from the VNA Foundation.

Peer Recovery Specialist Program offers Job Training with Purpose

At Haymarket Center, we guide patients through every step of their recovery, including what recovery looks like after treatment when re-entering the job force. Through extensive training, our career navigation model takes an individualized look at the future professional paths of those in treatment. In addition to GED lessons, our Family Enrichment Center offers computer skills training, job-readiness training, and many other programs to help recovering patients secure employment and set themselves up for success.

Through a grant received from the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, Haymarket Center is now offering patients who have completed treatment the opportunity to pursue a career as a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. In addition to helping patients seeking meaningful employment, the program has a dual benefit of addressing the shortage of behavioral health professionals by training individuals with lived experience.

“For about 12-15 weeks, patients learn the ins and outs, earn their CEUs and receive training to become recovery specialists,” says Kimberley Watts, Family Enrichment Center Manager, “the goal is to train them in a purposeful way and help support our programs.”

This program helps to alleviate some of the employment barriers faced by those in recovery, as many patients who enter Haymarket for treatment are unemployed and have limited education. For this training, individuals only need their high school diploma or GED, which can be attained through our FEC. In order to receive their certification, individuals must participate in 100 hours of classroom education, 100 hours of hands-on supervised recovery support work, and 2,000 hours of work in the field.

What makes peer recovery specialists unique is their ability to connect with people struggling with substance use disorder because they have experienced of achieving sobriety firsthand. Those connections make all the difference in the lives of those seeking treatment. “So far, the participants in this program are doing an excellent job,” Kim says, “many of our clients feel as though Haymarket has been the foundation for their recovery, and this is an opportunity to give back to the programs that have helped them so much.”

Whether these trained professionals continue their career at Haymarket or move on to other opportunities to help the community, they are helping to increase access to services in the substance use disorder field. We are thankful to our Certified Recovery Specialists like Loretta and Melinda for not only their hard work as members of our staff, but also for their ability to make a greater impact on patients here at Haymarket Center. You can help us increase access to care for patients taking the next step in their path to recovery by making a gift today. Visit our Ways to Give page for more information on how you can support Haymarket Center.