“Being able to see them really find their passion is rewarding,” Costa said. In addition to art-based treatment, the center offers group therapy, support for family members of addicts and educational activities, such as parenting classes. Costa, 25, said the program is meant to encompass all the needs of families in crisis. “We try to have some kind of wraparound system where we can meet all the issues of the families,” Costa said. The center has been open to the public for two years, and recently began a push to expand its services for adolescents and young adults in the Whittier area. The idea for a recovery center that focused on creative expression was born in 2000, when Garcia and a group of four other women began to develop an action plan. They named the center LUNA, which stands for Latina Unidas de Nueva Amanecer, or “women united to find a new path.” The primary focus of the program was originally adults, and the center worked extensively with First Day, a local homeless shelter. The adult program is thriving with about 35 clients and the relationship with First Day is still strong, but Garcia said the center is now targeting teens and young adults. Eight adolescent clients have graduated from the six-month program in the past year and about 25 are currently enrolled. Garcia attributed the high success rate of these clients to the willingness of young people to express themselves creatively, a cornerstone of treatment at LUNA. “They can actually express their emotions more through music, drawing and writing,” Garcia said. “They build a trust with each other and with us.” The most recent addition to the programs offered is a new group for 18- to 24-year-olds. Cecilia Morales, 33, is a substance abuse counselor and supervisor for adult clients at LUNA. Morales said the counselors at the center realized that many young adults did not fit well in either the program for teens or for adults. Many clients in this demographic have children and must support themselves, but are also dealing with issues with their parents, school problems and immaturity, Morales said. “What we’re trying to do is put them in their own category so they can learn from each other,” Morales said. Doreen Gargas, 20, is one of the clients the new group was created to help. She said she has a history of using methamphetamines and was assigned to the program five months ago as a condition of probation. She has been clean for a year, and said the program has helped her better understand her addiction. Gargas has a 3-month-old daughter, Taylor, and said that LUNA’s parenting classes have taught her to be a more capable mother. “I love the parenting class especially,” Gargas said. “That’s taught me a lot about patience.” The LUNA Recovery Center is a nonprofit organization that receives most of its funding through the government. It also relies heavily on donations of money and supplies from the public. Most clients pay only about $5 each month out of pocket. To find out more about making a donation to LUNA Recovery Center or to request the services it offers, call (562) 693-0400. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3015160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Art for sobriety’s sake? One rehabilitation center for recovering addicts in Whittier is taking a fresh approach to treatment by using creative expression to encourage sobriety. The LUNA Recovery Center is not unique in its goals, but in its model. LUNA uses what founder and director Mona Garcia calls the “Social Change Model,” which focuses on the arts as a form of expression and healing. Program Manager Vanessa Costa said clients discover a passion for the arts, thereby focusing on their future.