I have been working with A Better Today for about 5 months. When I started, I had no idea what it was going to be like. I had never worked in a treatment center, but I knew that it was something I was called to do. Last weekend, I was asked to take part in an ABT alumni breakfast. The Alumni breakfast is a part of the Alumni program – that keeps ABT graduates in contact with ABT after they leave as well as in contact with their fellow graduates. Anyone who has graduated A Better Today is notified and welcome to come to the Alumni events. One thing I have learned while working here is that, we want to keep in touch with our clients even after they have left treatment. The majority of ABT’s support staff, including myself, are also in recovery. Many times, our clients come in broken and we get to take part in their healing and growth. We get to see the light come back into their eyes as they begin to heal emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. We get to impart some of our own wisdom to them as well. We understand where they have been. We can point out the attitude that is holding them back, because we used to have that same attitude. The alumni program is a way to continue to keep connected days, months, and years after clients graduate.
I arrived early for the Alumni breakfast and saw counselors and staff hard at work preparing breakfast. The alumni who were already there greeted me with huge smiles and hugs. It was amazing to be able to see that each one of these men and women continued to remain drug-free. At least 5 of them, I worked with directly when they arrived to ABT’s recovery community up until the time they graduated. The breakfast took place at ABT’s recovery community, so there were also current clients who could attend the breakfast and see the alumni come in. I snapped a few photographs and I started up some conversation. I wanted to speak with clients, alumni and staff who also attended ABT to gain some insight on how they are doing and what they learned during their treatment with us.
The first person I spoke with was Ron, a middle-aged gentleman who came to seek treatment for his alcoholism. He expressed to me how dark and depressing his life had become. He said he used to sit in his room and drink away his days. He had issues of trauma and abuse that he had to overcome along with his alcoholism. One thing that I noticed about Ron from the beginning was that he had a spark of determination and willingness. Many difficult things happened during his time at ABT but he held on and trusted the process. He found out that he would not be going back to his job and he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He felt sadness for the way things were unfolding. Staff were always there to comfort and talk to him during these hard times and he was appreciative. Throughout everything, he continued to stay focused and did his best to not worry about what was happening outside of the walls of ABT. He surrendered because he realized that no matter what else was going on, getting treatment was the most important thing for him and what was going to save his life. Ron’s dedication to his treatment and recovery really spoke for itself. He immersed himself into the program of ABT and one day after a long conversation with him, he told me that he would like to come back and work for A Better Today after he has gained sufficient recovery time. The man I was speaking to at the Alumni breakfast was a completely different man then the one I had met when he walked into the doors of A Better Today. Many changes had taken place within Ron and it was beautiful to witness. I asked Ron how his life is going today and he proceeded to tell me that he is now assistant manager of the sober-living where he lives and went on to tell me that he is a part of a small group of ABT graduates who all live in the same area and have developed a support system by attending meetings together almost every day. They also sometimes do fun things like go to the movies together. I was more than happy to hear this from Ron. I asked him if he still planned on coming back to ABT to work and he smiled and explained that he still intends to apply once he has sufficient continuous sobriety.
Later, Chuck, a current A Better Today Lead Support Staff who also went through treatment here shared that before he came to ABT, everything around him was on falling apart, but he just kept on drinking and didn’t think much of it. When he came to ABT, he got a chance to understand himself and his substance abuse disorder. After a long period of continuous sobriety, he was given a job offer by ABT. I went and spoke with some current clients and I asked a few of them to share with me how they feel about seeing the alumni come back to A Better Today – still drug and alcohol free. One client shared that seeing the alumni come back to ABT gave her a sense of hope.The remainder of the alumni breakfast went great. I saw a room full of happy and grateful people. A room full of people who walked into A Better Today broken and walked out with a new set of tools, understandings and knowledge that today is keeping them drug and alcohol free. All in all it was an amazing experience.
To see the alumni happy and to see the clients given hope. It was a great reminder to everyone why our dedication as staff is important and encouraged me to remember to carry the mission of recovery in my hearts each day when I come to work. I hope to attend many more alumni events in the future and see more and more successes.