As a direct result of a Reno resident named Eli Maritano, the Step 1 vision began in the 1950’s. Maritano began offering his own home as a meeting place for alcoholics seeking sobriety. Maritano, a passionate believer in providing hope to others, understood the challenges facing those with substance abuse problems. He offered his garage as a dorm type facility so these men in need had a safe place to lay their head and a hot meal at the end of the day. Using his own experiential knowledge, he was convinced that by offering men a home in which to gather strength alongside others with similar problems, they could begin again with dignity and self-respect. When his small garage could no longer adequately provide space for all the men in need, Maritano relocated to a home near the University of Nevada, Reno campus, in 1990. Step 1 continues to provide services in this location today.
Experience proved that kindness alone was not enough to build a foundation for long-term recovery. The men were still relapsing and some, returning to prison. Facing the chronic condition (known as, alcoholism and/or drug addiction), the program design changed, becoming more structured and life-skill oriented so the men could achieve successful reintegration back into the community. In 1993, Maritano formalized his desire to be of service to men in recovery. The organization officially took on the name Step 1, Inc. and received its IRS 501(c) (3) designation in March 1993. The first step in 12-step recovery programs is about accepting powerlessness and acknowledging the unmanageability of alcoholism/addiction. This is the cornerstone of long-term recovery and the Step 1 program embraces this philosophy as change always begins with acknowledgment.