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The 2nd Story Ranch is a project of

The Second Story Foundation 

(A 501c3 Nonprofit, Tax Exempt ID #: 88-3942345)


  1. The Problem: 

Substance Use Disorder creates an inordinate amount of suffering.  Families and loved ones suffer, communities suffer, the individual suffers—much more others know.  Chronic substance use problems are a matter of life and death and can leave people and their families broken and hopeless. 

In 2021: 

  •  99,017 people died from alcohol-related deaths

  • 106,000 drug-overdose deaths were reported

  • 70,601 deaths involving synthetic opioids were reported

These deaths are deaths of despair.  For many, many suffering from substance use disorder, trying to be abstinent just isn’t enough.  Learning to live sober takes care and healing, it takes work and direction and it takes love from those who know how to give it.  And it takes time.  More time, in fact, than many people think.


  1. The Vision:

 The 2nd Story Ranch will be both a home and a program of long-term recovery.  Members will come to live, work, learn, and heal.  Men will grow into themselves, anew, at The 2nd Story Ranch.  Men who complete a 28-day inpatient rehabilitation facility and are accepted into the program will each have meaningful jobs on the Ranch in maintenance, landscaping, and horse care.  Each member will be assigned a horse of his own to both take care of and learn from while he lives on the Ranch.  The men will work with members of the Illinois Standardbred community who use the Ranch as a training facility for harness racing.  The men in the 2nd Story Ranch program will be part of revitalizing the property and facilities to grow and serve the communities we touch.  Ours will be a program of restoration and renewal through work, through community connection, and through the gifts that are unique to working with horses. Most of all, the 2nd Story Ranch will be an example of love made real by embracing suffering.


  1. Our Approach:

Our program will have no time limits on how long a member may reside with us.

Our program will be free of charge.  We will not bill insurance, the men, or their families in any way.

The program for long-term sobriety will be built to be a home for up to 15 men.  The program will be delivered in two phases.  In Phase 1 of the program the men will be given purposeful work on our ranch in maintenance, landscaping, and horse care.  The jobs are meaningful—to work at The Ranch will be to take care of a place that care of others.  The job is part of the treatment process and helps develop a new ethic and an appreciation for the opportunity to work hard.  Our design will help teach our members to accept and respect what it means to be truly home, and truly loved. Our intention is to bring The Ranch back to life and host our partners in the harness racing and equine communities at a facility they will be proud of, and where our partners will feel at home themselves.  


The men will receive group and 1-on-1 counseling and attend 12-Step meetings in the evenings.  Counseling modalities will include Trauma Informed Care, CBT, Existential and Narrative Therapy, Mindfulness, DBT and Equine Therapy. Each man will get a Sponsor and “Work the Steps” earnestly.   2nd Story Ranch members will receive spiritual direction and develop an appreciation that all life is sacred.


When he has healed enough, is strong enough, and developed a healthy routine, a 2nd Story member will enter Phase 2 of the program.  Each man in Phase 2 will obtain a full-time job in the community and continue to live with us at The Ranch, free of charge.  In this Phase he will learn to manage the stressors of work-life, maintain his sobriety routine, and strengthen his connections in the communities that have helped him in his new journey.  We will work on managing money and savings, we will begin to address credit issues.  We will develop the way and the means to move into independent living (almost always with one or more of his brothers in the program).  We commit to seeing that our members reach this goal and we promise our continued support for as long that member stays connected.

There is no time limit for a man to reside and work with the 2nd Story Ranch.  We understand that people heal at different rates, so we cannot know how long he may need to live with us.  A common time frame is one year, but we will meet each man’s need.  Each man’s goal is to live sober; to be useful, compassionate, and kind; to gain financial independence and responsibility and, eventually, to be of service to others.   We define success as completing our program with one year sober, working with integrity at a good job, signing a one-year lease, and living sober, responsibly, for at least one year outside the program while being active in our larger community.


  1. Expected Outcomes:

The Executive Director and the Director of Operations are both trained addictions counselors.  The Executive Director of The Second Story Foundation has experience running a highly successful recovery program on a farm south of Chicago for the last 4 years.  Our model and staff are proven and we expect outcomes to meet and exceed standards traditional addictions treatment program have set.  Our standard of success begins with completing the program as delivered (with a year sober), obtaining a good-paying job, and signing a one-year-lease in an area where a 2nd Story member can stay close to the communities with whom he began his journey.  The 2nd Story Foundation is committed to seeing men transition to safe, stable housing.  Each member will have a stated long-term goal to continue his sobriety for at least one-year after transitioning to independent living.


Once our program is operational, we expect to help at least 8 men transition to independent living in the first 12 months and then average roughly 10 men-per year thereafter. In 10 years, we expect to have lifted 100 men from the ruble left in the wake of severe substance use disorder to living in the joy of recovery.  With sobriety as a way of life, we will see our members become good men, honest partners, and loving family members.  We value being healthy, useful, and kind.


  1. Costs for Fundraising 

We have just recently negotiated purchase of a horse farm in Crete, IL.  This property is currently boarding over 50 horses (with 86 total stalls), is an operational training facility for Standardbred horses, and is a turnkey business. We are setting out to raise five million dollars.


Our fundraising goal will be raised to purchase the property and horse boarding business, begin residential construction, and cover operational costs for The Second Story Ranch.  A cursory breakdown looks like:


$2.5m Residential Buildings on Site (two 1800 sq ft homes/1 Residential Lodge for Men)

$1.2m total cost for property acquisition 

$70,000 Executive Director Salary

$70,000 Director of Operations Salary

$60,000 Director of Administration Salary

$500,000 Operations and Upgrades to The Ranch in our inaugural year.

$1,000,000 2-years Operational Funds


The Ranch has 86 stalls with approximately 50 horses currently boarded and generates roughly $60,000 annually. We will:

  • Lower expenses through property tax exemptions and volunteer labor

  • Improve the condition of the facility and property 

  • Offer improved amenities and savings to boarders

  • Raise fees when and where appropriate

  • Host events to promote both Illinois Harness Racing and The 2nd Story Ranch

  • Investigate revenue streams as a mixed-use facility


The program will be funded through revenue from the business, federal, state, and private grants, private fundraising and events.  We will establish an endowment to ensure continued operations funding into the future.


  1. Currently we are partnering with:

State Senator Patrick Joyce

State Representative Jackie Haas

Dr. Kathleen Burke, Director, Will County Substance Use Initiatives

Local Officials

NextHealth, Inc


South Suburban Faith Based Communities

South Suburban and Will County Recovery Communities

Private and Corporate Foundations 


We are and GATA certified and working with State and County officials to access Community Appropriations Funds and other state and federal funding opportunities that allow us the flexibility to give the time, care, and opportunities necessary for our members to succeed in long-term sobriety.  


There is a prayer:

“Oh Lord, Thy Sea is so great, and My Boat so small…”

A journey like this is daunting.

But we have the model, experience, the people, and the work ethic to meet a need that is so great.

We will need help raising the funding so we can do the work that will save lives and transform the suffering of substance use disorder to the joy of recovery. 


We invite you to join us and make us a funding priority as a one-of-a-kind, intentional community program that addresses a seemingly intractable problem.  Help us radically transform the lives of those suffering from this public health crisis.




Jim O’Connor

Executive Director,

The Second Story Foundation

(708) 929-2978


Tax Exempt ID#: 88-3942345

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