Ann Hull Kuster has been a Licensed Independent Social Worker for 36 years, working in the field of eating disorders and addictions for the past 22 years. She is the owner of The Hull Institute, LLC, a private outpatient counseling practice in Northeast Ohio specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and addictions.
In 2020, Ann formed Hull House Real Recovery, formally known as Hull House Recovery Residences, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, charity organization. Being a not-for-profit always made sense to Ann; HHRR is not about the money. “We developed HHRR to fill an unmet need: Accountability, Connection and Love after treatment for an eating disorder and/or addiction.”
In choosing the name Hull House Real Recovery, Ann is continuing the work of Hull House Settlement Home, the first of its kind in the country. Starting in 1889 in Chicago, Hull House provided free housing for immigrant families. Jane Addams and her team of women began a movement to address poverty and inequity, especially amongst women and children. They fought for reform and social justice. They fought for women’s rights, healthcare reform, and equality for marginalized populations.
From Hull House Recovery Residences to Hull House Real Recovery
In 2020, Ann and her husband, Jim Kuster, found a lovely home in West Akron and purchased it with the intention of converting it into a recovery residence for women with eating disorders and addictions. Fast forward to the spring of 2022, and that is exactly what they did. From furnishing the house and developing the organization’s programs, to hiring a wonderful and talented staff, the house was just about ready to open its doors to interested residents. However, Ann quickly began to realize that this community needed to be reached and supported in a different and immediate way – and this is how Hull House Real Recovery began.
Two months later, in June of 2022, the house and furniture were sold and the money was put towards developing what is now Hull House Real Recovery; a peer support centered organization whose goal is to provide in person and virtual peer support services for those in recovery from an eating disorder and/or addiction.
While undergoing this organization-wide transformation was no easy feat, the decision to do it was crystal clear for Ann for two reasons: to improve both the accessibility and comprehensiveness of eating disorder support, something that this field lacks.
People with eating disorders, and more so, those with co-occurring addiction and trauma, are still a very marginalized group of people. Research is underfunded; clinicians and physicians don’t know how, and often refuse, to treat eating disorders and addictions. Families and friends cannot truly appreciate the challenge’s people with these brain disorders face every day.
All this leaves people with an eating disorder and/or addiction without support and resources as they undergo the most challenging journey: finding lasting recovery, self-love, and giving and receiving love in connection with others. These individuals deserve the support and resources they need to create a life worth living; a life worth sharing.