This year, The GateHouse is celebrating its 50th year of offering people a meaningful path to recovery. As part of this celebration, we want to spotlight prominent community members who have played an integral part in making The Gatehouse what it is today.
Jere Stabley, one of the original founding members of The GateHouse, was one of the key players whose hard work and dedication helped lay the foundation for what The GateHouse is today.
The GateHouse Had Humble Beginnings
Now a staple in the Eastern Pennsylvania recovery community, the GateHouse had modest beginnings. It began in 1971 when a group of friends recognized the need for a halfway house in Lancaster. Before The GateHouse, the area didn’t have a place for people to go after rehab where they could receive support as they rebuilt their life in sobriety.
Jere Stabley – now 95 years old and 53 years sober – was part of that group of friends. He met many of his fellow GateHouse co-founders when he arrived at Alcoholics Anonymous in 1969.
In reflecting on the start of the program, he recalls how “there were no facilities in Lancaster for detox. We had individuals coming from all different programs, but nowhere to go after getting sober.” And thus, the idea for The GateHouse was born.
He said he remembers searching for the perfect place for the new halfway house like it was yesterday. The team initially looked at some properties south of Lancaster, but the streets were too busy and too noisy. That’s when they landed on a house in Lititz, PA.
Funding for the house initially came from the Lancaster County Office of the National Council on Alcoholism, but much of the initial handy work was done by Jere Stabley and other founding members.
“The house needed a lot of work,” Jere said. “It needed to be cleaned, painted, and the floors had to be redone.”
The group would go on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and all-day Saturday for about five months until the house was complete.
“It was good therapy for all of us to work together,” Jere said. “It felt good to give something back to the community after taking so much.”
The First Years Were A Community Effort
The GateHouse admitted its first official resident in December 1972. Much like its founding, the first years were a community effort. Jere Stabley recalls the founding members taking turns serving as program director on the weekends.
“It was our responsibility to make sure everyone had something to eat, get to know them, and be a good listener,” Jere said. “We’d often take people to appointments, interviews, or to run errands in our own private vehicles.”
During this time, weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were also established at The GateHouse.
The guiding principle for these beginning years was simply to provide a space for those in recovery to get together and converse.
“We wanted The GateHouse to be somewhere people could take it one day at a time,” Jere said.
He said anyone was welcome; the only rule was that you had to leave if you picked up any drugs or alcohol. Jere emphasized the importance of encouraging others to “not take that first drink.” He envisioned TGH as a place where individuals could meaningfully rebuild their lives.
The GateHouse: 1978 and Onward
For a brief moment, The GateHouse shut down in April 1978 due to competition from other halfway houses in nearby counties. This was quickly rectified, however, when the Halfway Environment for Alcoholics Recovering (H.E.A.R Inc.) was created.
In March 1979, The GateHouse reopened under H.E.A.R. Inc. and admitted its first resident. The GateHouse continued to grow by opening The GateHouse for Women and establishing an outpatient program.
Even as The GateHouse continues to expand its robust programming, it maintains the simple, yet profound values of its founding members: to provide community and support for individuals in recovery. As Jere reiterates, “It’s all about taking it one day at a time. Without Alcoholics Anonymous and The GateHouse, I wouldn’t be here.”
The community remains the bedrock of The GateHouse to this day, and its continued legacy of offering people a path to recovery remains as important as ever.
The GateHouse is Central Pennsylvania’s leader in accredited addiction recovery care, recognizing the unique challenges individuals face on their journey to recovery. For 50 years, we have helped individuals in our community restore their lives and rediscover the strength of the human spirit.
We provide each client with a support system that helps them break the cycle of substance abuse disorder and put them on the path to recovery. The GateHouse is here for you, whether you need outpatient support, transitional living conditions, or residential treatment programs. Reach out to us today!