Wister Street Expansion Site Provides an Inviting Environment for Community

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“One Single, Yet Brave, Little Step”

These words appear on a staircase inside RHD’s Wister Street Expansion Site at 6081-83 Wister Street, in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. It’s a concise and inspiring summation of the program’s mission.

Wister Street provides 24-hour residential and behavioral services to individuals returning to society following time spent in a prison, state hospital, or other place of confinement. As Program Director, Nicole Brown, explained, participants may “attend a recovery program. Some individuals are employed, some are in school. We support them in their goals to ultimately transition into lower-level care with more independence in the community.”

Currently, there are three Wister Street sites in Germantown, including the original site at 326 East Wister St., the expansion site, and the step-down program transitioning participants to an independent living environment at 514 West Coulter St.

While plans for the Wister St. Expansion Site began two years ago, delays inevitably occurred, compounded by COVID-19. After a year spent at a temporary location, the site finally opened this past May.

The Expansion Site is divided into two buildings, one each for female and male residents. Each building has a kitchen and eating area, as well as communal areas for socializing and watching TV. There are one- and two-person bedrooms in each building as well.

The site is warm and inviting. The art and inspirational phrases on the wall emphasize healing and community-building. Brown and her staff will be working with RHD’s Susan Hunt to convert some of the community rooms to SMART therapy rooms, equipped with different lighting options and sound/scent/motor/tactile stimulation tools to utilize during therapy sessions. Additionally, the location features a spacious, relaxing backyard. A patio with tables is set to be built for two events Wister Street will be hosting this summer: 1) Their annual seafood festival is scheduled for Juneteenth, June 19, and 2) their Friends and Family Day will be in August.

The participants are already pleased with the site. When reflecting on how the new space has impacted the residents, Brown shared, “One of our female residents that has been with Wister Street for quite a while was one of the individuals that got her own bedroom. It’s something she hadn’t had in a very long time. I said ‘It’s your bedroom. You worked for that. You deserve it.’”

Brown and her staff have plans for more improvements as well. “We’re doing some work now trying to make it really comfortable for participants. I think it’s going to be great.”

For more information, go to www.rhd.org/program/wister-street/.