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The Yankee Express

Vanderburgh House emerges as a pacesetter in sober living

Feb 09, 2021 10:00AM ● By Rod Lee

The Chamberlain Home in Southbridge is one of a number of sober living facilities Vanderburgh House owns and operates in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. The company’s business model is built on residents taking responsibility for their home and their recovery.

It appears that there is no slowing down Hunter Foote, Vanderburgh House and the communities the upstart nonprofit is creating throughout the city of Worcester, South County and beyond.

A new residence in Southbridge, set to open on Main Street this month, typifies Vanderburgh House’s rapid growth as a provider of structured and certified sober living for men and women in a recovery-focused and peer-supported environment. 

“It’s incredible,” Mr. Foote said during a telephone conversation in January, in testament to the success Vanderburgh House’s business model is enjoying so far.

Mr. Foote had just returned from one of a couple of trips he has made to Nairobi, this time with his fiancé “and we met with her mother. Kenya has always been a big part of my life,” he said.

He relishes talking about the endeavors his company is undertaking to help men and women try to shed the ruinous effects of alcohol and drugs.

“We now have a home in Maine, in South Portland, for women; a home for men in Rhode Island, in Pawtucket; a new home in Greenfield, Massachusetts, a two-family for men and women, side by side. It’s so cool to work with independent sober home operators. They carry the flag.”

The Vanderburgh House concept is built on five principles: recovery, community, accessibility, independence and sustainability.

In terms of the first, Vanderburgh House’s policies, leadership and culture are all intended to support residents on their road to recovery. On the second, Vanderburgh House homes are supervised by a house manager who is dedicated to providing service to the home’s residents. As for accessibility, homes are open “to every member of the global recovery community with a straightforward application process, transparent approval criteria and affordable costs.” When it comes to the independence factor, Vanderburgh House does not direct its residents’ actions; rather, “we coach, support and mentor our brothers and sisters in recovery.” In terms of sustainability, residents are encouraged to be “good stewards of the earth and its resources.”

The day-to-day workings of Vanderburgh House’s homes are governed by a handbook and house rules.

Payment is weekly or monthly starting at just over $100.

Vanderburgh House does not accept health insurance.

A view of Vanderburgh House living space.


Homes Vanderburgh House has already opened or will be unveiling soon include the Germain Estate in Worcester, for women; the Kenwood Home in Worcester, for men; the Elm Home in Worcester, also for men; the Chamberlain Home in Southbridge, which is coed; the Dartmouth Home for women in Springfield; the Rogers Home for men in Pawtucket; the Prospect Home for men in Springfield; the Calderia Home in Worcester, which is coed, and the Westville Home in Shrewsbury, also coed.

Chamberlain House is an example of the type of facility Vanderburgh House is looking for in its search for new properties that fit its needs. It is a restored Victorian on a large private piece of land with flowering fruit trees, fountains and gardens, two kitchens and “many updates.”

“It’s a challenge being able to work with independent operators who have experience,” Mr. Foote said. “We attract individuals who are more serious” about being part of a life-changing initiative, he said.

COVID-19 “has not impacted us all that much,” he pointed out. “Everyone needs a place to live, if we respect the safety protocols.”

When we spoke, Vanderburgh House’s new facility in Southbridge was in the process of being set up, and completely renovated.

As is true of other sober living facilities, Vanderburgh House requires abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Residents are engaged in their personal recovery journey by attending meetings and working with a sponsor and the house manager for support and encouragement. Residents adhere to a curfew, submit to drug and alcohol screenings and participate in home and community events.

All of Vanderburgh House’s actions are guided by “clinical research and best practices.”

Expansion beyond Southbridge in South County is something Vanderburgh House is considering, Mr. Foote said.

“Indeed, we are opening the home in Southbridge in short order. We’ve looked into Webster as well. The rest (towns like Dudley, Oxford and Charlton, and Putnam and Thompson, for instance) are a bit too small to support a largely walking-only population. We would be happy to explore Connecticut as well,” however, he said.

  The growth of Vanderburgh House raises all kinds of possibilities along this line, which is good news for individuals looking for a stable and supportive environment in which to get and stay sober.


Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.