When someone seeks treatment at Rosecrance, they are welcomed into a community that extends far beyond the counselors, staff, and fellow clients who nurture their first steps. Through the Alumni program, those who seek treatment are connected with supports to help navigate the challenges of the recovery journey.
Clients may connect with alumni as soon as they receive an identification number through Rosecrance. This creates opportunities to build relationships and strengthen recovery skills before they finish treatment, and even if they don’t complete the program, they are still encouraged to stay in touch.
“There are often twists and turns in recovery, and we want to maintain a daily connection to help them through those,” said Colleen Fry, Director of Alumni Services. “We want to participate in the lives of current and former clients so they can feel care and support no matter where they are in the journey.”
The Alumni program fosters relationships through a variety of in-person and interactive online activities. In a typical year, fun events would bring together alumni throughout Illinois and western Iowa. Hiking, kayaking, movie nights, pickup volleyball and softball would be the norm during warmer weather, then holiday activities such as Christmas caroling would fill the winter. Many connection points are designed with families in mind, as Rosecrance knows the importance of loved ones on the journey.
However, COVID-19 forced in-person events to adapt to social distancing measures and pushed many connections online. Creative thinking in the pandemic’s early days led to a robust expansion of Rosecrance’s virtual resources for clients and alumni. Twelve-Step meetings went online, along with meditation, yoga, art classes, and counseling sessions. In addition, interactive communications, gratitude journals, podcasts, and links to clinical information filled the gap.
“When I think of our recovery community, I think of resilience, and that is what I’ve seen this year,” said Alumni Coordinator Jada Miller. “Even though virtual isn’t as personal as we would like, it has been a blessing for us as our alumni still have a place to go to help them stay sober.”
As the program has grown, many alumni have taken the initiative to develop camaraderie on their own. It is now common for them to organize virtual and in-person events for their home areas, which allows deeper connections to form. These organic connections help alumni achieve their recovery goals, whether that is another day substance-free or achievements that keep strengthening self-esteem.
“I’m proud of the way our alumni are leading themselves,” Fry said. “They are shaping their experiences and sharing the gift of recovery with their families and friends.”
For more information about Rosecrance’s alumni program, visit https://rosecrance.org/alumni/.