com•mu•ni•ty: A sense of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.
For young addicts and alcoholics, Sober College provides a variety of unique activities that allow clients to successfully immerse themselves back into society. One such activity is “Community.” Once a week, the entire Sober College community is brought together so clients can celebrate one another’s recovery.
During these meetings, staff and treatment team members make announcements and feature slideshows and videos that document some of the fun goings-on from the previous week at Sober College. Further, the academics team awards clients who have gone above and beyond the group’s expectations. “Community” also invites families and guests to come and see the people that make this organization unique, namely its clients and staff.
Community offers clients the opportunity to see and experience the growth and development of their peers, while also providing them with a chance to meet and socialize with Sober College alumni and current clients. Additionally, in the spirit of recovery, Sober College initiates a clean time countdown, starting with 29 days clean and counting all the way down to 1 day clean, followed by one month, two months, and so on. As clients come up to take a chip for the length of time they have been sober, they are asked to speak about where they are at, how they’re feeling, or anything else that comes to mind. For this celebratory occasion, it is common for, current and past clients show up to community to honor their – and their peers – sobriety birthdays. As part of the gathering, clients and staff alike gather around to sing “Happy Birthday” while the person being honored is invited to blow out candles on a cake. After this countdown, clients are treated to a catered lunch.
This weekly get-together has allowed me to watch in amazement as my peers have grown, week by week. We often find it difficult to see change within ourselves. But in Community, when we see those around us grow as their sobriety becomes stronger, we can better appreciate the subtle but sometimes profound effects of sobriety and the Sober College program itself. At Community, we are gifted with a sense of belonging, a sense of achievement and a sense of appreciation and hope.
In my early days at Sober College, I remember watching clients take chips and cakes for their varying lengths of clean time. I saw the confidence and poise they exuded as they spoke about their experiences. I saw their newly found happiness and joy, and most importantly, I saw that it was genuine. I listened as they spoke about how they had put their trust into others and were not disappointed.
At Community, we get to share in each other’s accomplishments. We get to cheer each other on and congratulate one another for growing and fighting the good fight. Not only are we given hope, but we get to be that hope as well.
“Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another” – Elie Wiesel.