At its most crowded, the Bebar home on Lime Street had nine people in it.
"There were six (brothers and sisters) in my family, and one time my grandmother moved in with us, so there were nine," Gary Bebar recalled when asked about growing up on Joliet's near west side.
Another nine people are living in Bebar's former home now—house manager Bob Sullivan and eight recovering drug addicts—as the county opened its new drug court recovery home Wednesday.
The Julie Ann House is the second recovery home for people who are nearing completion of the Will County Drug Court Program. In 2010, a recovery home for men was established and named in honor of one of the program’s first graduates, Miller Taylor. The Miller Taylor House was the first recovery home in the United States operated by a drug court program.
The Miller Taylor House will now be a home for women, with the men moving into the Julie Ann House, which is named for Will County Drug Court Coordinator Julie McCabe-Sterr and Will County Board Member Ann Dralle.
“Our first recovery home enabled men from the drug court program to take control of their lives and reintegrate themselves back into their communities,” said Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who spearheaded the creation of the drug court in the 1990s. “The opening of a second home will give the women in our drug court a place to complete their journeys toward leading healthy and productive lives.”
In drug court, prosecutors and defense attorneys work with the judge and treatment providers to help abusers who have committed non-violent offenses beat their addictions. Those allowed into the program are carefully screened and must remain drug free, submit to random drug tests, find employment, follow through with treatment and attend weekly drug court sessions. Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes presides over drug court.
Eight men who have progressed through treatment and halfway houses will live in the home along with house manager Bob Sullivan, who formerly managed the Miller Taylor House.
"This is run like a household, it's a family," said Sullivan, telling how residents share chores and take turns cooking.
"If they don't know how to cook, we teach them," he said.
The men spend much of their time out of the house, working, attending school and going to meetings, but the residents get together each week for a Sunday dinner, Sullivan said.
Bebar's niece, Julie Rojo, and her husband, Gary, attended Friday's open house. Bebar remembered spending holidays at the house, which her family first bought in 1929 and was last lived in by an aunt.
"My aunt was still here last year, so we visited often," Rojo said.