History of The Other Side and NDARS

about-the-other-sideThe story begins with our parent organization, New Directions Addiction Recovery Services, which was founded in May of 2010 with goal of providing a treatment center to Mchenry County. Founded by Thomas Johnson and his father Thomas W. Johnson Sr began a campaign to provide a system of support for the recovery community. While this was happening, there was another group of people unknowingly working towards what is currently the mission of NDARS.

The mission of New Directions Addiction Recovery Services is to provide a network of services that address substance abuse and addiction. Chris Reed, Michael Ledvora, Joe Bongiovani, Aaron Cutler, Steven Staley, Evan Mclean, Cassandra Wingert and Adam Reed picked up where Tommy and his team left off. A fresh new chapter began for the organization with the passing of the torch to this group of young adults.

Chris had gotten sober in 2009 and shortly after started a construction company which in time leased the located where the first project had begun to develop. There was 2500 SQFT attached to the office where the construction company was being run. Slowly people that had helped Chris get sober had started to spend free time gathering In the warehouse after 12 step meetings. This slowly began to be a people place for thin and his friends in recovery to hang out. Improvements were made to the location and more people began to come. A bar was built, pool table came in, speakers were installed. They began to hold themed sober party’s once a month and began to draw over 100 people on a regular basis to these sober events. The Other Side was the name given to the spot and had become a sober bar.

This was put to and halt in September of 2012 by the city of Crystal lake. The property was not zoned for what was happening, nor was fit with the appropriate safety features. They made a decision to take the steps necessary to rezone the unit. This was approved by the city council of Crystal lake along with a list of renovations that totaled just shy of $50,000. Fortunately there was a report from the Chicago Tribune that ran on the front page of a Sunday paper which raised awareness of the project around the country. The money was raised and the renovations were complete in 3 months. The Other Side opened officially on April 22nd of 2013.

NDARS also has a entity that started around the same time which is Wake The Nation. They focus on Advocacy and Naloxone Training. The program was started by Cassandra Wingert and was adopted as an entity of NDARS. Cassandra lost the father of her son to a heroin overdose and has been passionate about preventing other family’s from going through what she went through. Cassandra lead the way In training most law enforcement departments in Mchenry county. Wake the nation holds annual events to raise awareness about addiction.



The goal of our organization is to continue to create entities underneath the NDARS 501c3 that all work together to provide self sustaining resources for people dealing with substance abuse and addiction. We want to carry a consistent message of hope and recovery thought all of our organizations. There is much left to do but we are off the a great start.

Are you or someone you know struggling with addiction?