A Great Example of How to Overcome NIMBYism

A great example of How to Overcome NIMBYism in your community.

As the opioid epidemic forces Philly neighborhoods to deal with overloads of people with addiction, welcoming them with open arms is not the norm. But thanks to a forward-thinking community leader, one section of Germantown is doing just that.

On the 700 block of East Chelten Avenue, Reverend Michelle Simmons is known. She’s been the block captain there for a decade, and she owns the role. Simmons’ neighbors, who’ve affectionately dubbed her “Rev,” value her presence.

As it happens, Simmons also operates a certified recovery house. Into the house, which she named Why Not Prosper, she invites women with addiction who’ve recently gotten out of prison and want to maintain their sobriety in a supportive environment.

It’s fair to say that Simmons has broken down a barrier.

Even the most-respected recovery houses often face zoning obstacles — and even death threats — when they try to open up shop. For Simmons to operate a recovery home and simultaneously receive support from her neighborhood…it’s uncharacteristic.

How did Simmons skirt the not-in-my-backyard attitude that often blocks recovery houses in Philly? Care, personal connections and lots of giving back.

Give a little, get a little

To earn acceptance in Germantown, Simmons had to put in work. Before she opened up her recovery house on Chelten Avenue in 2006, she became a member of the local registered community organization (RCO). She made presentation after presentation to her neighbors about the benefits of sober living.

Simmons promised to help the neighborhood — she said she’d provide services and host community events.

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