The Last Stop “clubhouse” is a recovery center based in Kensington, Philadelphia: a neighborhood known for its role in the nation’s growing heroine epidemic. As an old-fashioned, tough-love, cold-turkey center, The Last Stop provides treatment with a heavy dose of religion and a hot meal and bed, if needed. In February 2019, the center was hit with a $1.7 million lawsuit due to violations of Philadelphia’s zoning codes. If forced to shut down, hundreds of people in recovery would be losing a “safe space.” As Rob, a former patron and current employee of the center, sums it up, “The Last Stop is not just a building. People that come to the center have two choices for their life: do something or die… If they were to close this place down, a lot more people would die.”
Published by WHYY in February 2019.
A repurposed stop sign advertises The Last Stop recovery center in Kensington on February 17, 2019.
Lou (left) and Michelle (center) organize donated clothes so that community members can more easily pick through them on February 17, 2019. The Last Stop gives donated clothes to the community each weekend. Lou was once a client of the last stop and, twelve years ago, he stayed at the center for six months. Since then, he has routinely volunteered at the center to express his gratitude. Michelle has been volunteering at The Stop for the past fifteen months, inspired by her daughter who is in recovery.
The Last Stop owner Eddie Zampitella makes a phone call about his court case on February 17, 2019. Zampitella currently faces a $1.7 million lawsuit for violating zoning restrictions.
Rob prepares a plate of spaghetti and meatballs on the evening of February 17, 2019. Clients and volunteers at The Last Stop are offered free meals each day, for which they can offer a donation if they wish. Rob ran three restaurants before coming to The Last Stop, and was therefore a natural choice to run the facility's kitchen.
A man stops to ask about the free clothes being given out by The Last Stop on the morning of February 17, 2019. Each Sunday, the center gives out donated clothes to community members in need.
The Last Stop owner Eddie Zampitella prays during the center's nightly rosary service on February 17, 2019. Although clients of the recovery center need not be religious, religion certainly plays a large part in recovery efforts.
A sign reading "You are strong. You are loved." sits in front of a shelf of Alcoholics Anonymous bibles at The Last Stop on February 17, 2019.
The Last Stop client Zachariah Donnelley stands on the outskirts of a rosary service at the recovery center on February 17, 2019. Donnelley considers the center "his home," and the people that come to it family. He has been a client of the center since January 2018.
The Last Stop owner Eddie Zampitella pauses for a moment in the center's hallway on February 17, 2019. Zampitella currently faces a $1.7 million lawsuit for violating zoning restrictions.
Rob pets Gizmo, a dog he rescued 18 months ago, on the morning of February 19, 2019. When he first found "Gizzy," the dog's legs were broken, he was malnourished, and was severely traumatized from abuse. Rob nursed him back to health and has slowly helped Gizmo to trust humans again.
Rob (right), the "second in command" at The Last Stop, speaks to Stop client Marla at the center’s coffee counter on February 21, 2019.
Nathanial McCray (center) leads the "morning mediation" at The Last Stop recovery center on February 19, 2019. Meditation meetings encourage the center clients to remain mindful and present. McCray was picked to lead the meeting due to the positive example that he's set in his sobriety. A different client is picked to lead the meeting each morning, as long as they are in good standing.
A neon sign in the main room of The Last Stop reads, "trust god / clean house / help others."
The exterior of The Last Stop recovery and sobriety center is seen decorated with an American flag and a needle and bottle adorned with a skull and cross bones on February 19, 2019.