Events and SOBER FUN

2013 Collaborative Session Notes 

Sober Fun – Alumni Recruiting Activities

Conveners: Jason Wahler, Northbound  [email protected]

Jordan Spektor, A New Path  [email protected]

Brianna Jones, Recovery Ways  [email protected]

Scribe: Tori DeGroote, Mission Pacific Coast Recovery [email protected]


Lauren White, Pine Grove

Dick Dillon, Innovaision

Sue Hendrickson, Caron Treatment Center

Patty Henderson, WINR

Vickie Bing, Benchmark Recovery

Gina Thorne, Lakeview Health

Jacob Goldberg, St Christopher Addiction Wellness

Bill Kinloch, The Refuge

Brianna Jones, Recovery Ways

Kym Vasey, Gateway Foundation

Mike Hendren, West Bridge

Susan Kerr, Focus Healthcare of TN

Keenan Diamond, Northbound

Lauren Younger , New Directions for Women


Brianna: Keeping younger clients engaged is the key

  • Work with local recreation center
  • Share costs for team
  • How do you get teams?
  • Call Alumni Directors from local centers in area
  • Example: Softball

Jason: Create excitement around the event with patient and family

  • Generate healthy activities
  • Examples: Paintball, Boxing, Boating


  1. Where does the funding come from?
  2. (Jason) The Center pays – Northbound funds events/1 per month. It is part of the marketing budget and captured in the cost of care. Northbound spends about $40,000 a year for everything including staff. Average 20-30 attenders per meeting, up to 15 for boating event, 100 at dinners, quarterly banquets, end of month Birthday BBQ
  3. If we don’t have athletic clients, what can we do?
  4. (Jason) Sporting events (Northbound goes to Angels games), Banquet events are important, adventure sporting is good as well (kayaking as opposed to stand-up paddle boarding).
  1. Focus is on healthy activity with some kind of physical fitness for health purposes.
  2. Non-physical activities include: Movies, Book signing
  3. (Jordan) Events include Backyard BBQ. Also combine resources with Jaywalker Lodge for events

( Sunday night wings & sports)

  1. (Keenan) Pick a few things, make it fun and make it short. We listen to the alumni and take their suggestions. Ask the alumni “What do they need to increase their long-term recovery?”Based on what the majority says, tailor the events to those needs.
  2. What events should we steer clear of?
  3. (Jason) Events that can expose them to not-so-healthy alternatives (“Redbull” events). You should also look into using liability waivers.
  4. (Keenan) Sober soccer team won leagues and we received community support which turns into potential new clients. Helps marketing for facility. We have about 100 super-involved active alumni.
  5. What constitutes “good” alumni?
  6. (Keenan) For Northbound, it solves itself. If someone is not right, we hear about it or see it.
  7. (Dick Dillon) Promote your alumni as an honor/award system that expects good sobriety
  8. How do you communicate with your alumni?
  9. (Keenan) Email blast using constant contact.
  10. Mass text
  11. Weekly/bi-weekly newsletter
  12. 2 emails leading up to an event so you don’t saturate that channel which could come back and shut it down
  13. How do you celebrate milestones?
  14. End of the month – Birthday meeting
  15. Post in the newsletter ( 1 each quarter)
  16. What is the criteria for your mentoring program
  17. (Brianna) Followed the set up that Caron has.
  18. Peer to peer.
  19. 30 days sobriety and hook them up for taking people to meetings, etc.

Dick Dillon: Ask your clients:

  1. What did you use to do that you enjoyed before active addiction?
  2. What do you want to do that you couldn’t while you were using?

We saw a lot of “artist” type activities come out of these questions.

  • Art/painting classes
  • Guitar playing/lessons
  • Kickball Leagues
  • Bowling Leagues
  • Theatre/Movies

Jacob: Our alumni go together for sober concerts

Keenan : We have to “ignite the buyer”; it’s bringing the “spark” back to get them excited.

You have to work with the clinical team to be present for damage control or exposure to anything dangerous

Gina: Equine and recovery allows us to involve the family

Dick Dillon: Look at our events calendar on our new TPAS website. You can post your events here!

2014 Collaborative Session Notes 


Conveners: Heather Lister, CeDAR and Nikki Soda, Harmony Foundation


Nikki Soda, Harmony             Chris Rueckert, Cirque Lodge
Kim Murphy, Creative Care Malibu      Heather Lister, CeDAR
Carver Brown, Pine Grove         Brook Ford, Steps Recovery
Luke Watson, Desert Palms     Heidi Chaffee, Astoria Point
Marsha Morris, Addiction Therapeutic Services      Courtney Wood, Westbridge
Theo Baars, Westbridge        John Courshon, Gateway Foundation
Wally Paton

Heather – two big events: 350 people and $8,000

  • Picnic – fire truck, food truck
  • Holiday party – volunteers, face painting
  • Open to family, friends, and alumni
  • Do not charge for the events

Carver – scholarships are available.  No alumni policing.  Check in does not monitor payment.

RSVP methods:

  • Constant Contact, Facebook check in online, text information on events, phone calls

Ideas for alumni events:

  • Women’s night- canvas and cocktails
  • Guys – go carts
  • Music group, rented room
  • Super Bowl tailgate or big screen party
  • Bowling, volleyball, laser tag

Monthly alumni meeting:

  • Panel – what questions they wish they would have asked?
  • Mixing clients and alumni at events – community connections!

Site selection of hotels and restaurants:

  • Go check the space before you sign a contract.
  • Just about everything can be negotiated on the contract except for the service charge.

2014 Collaborative Session Notes


Convener: Gina Thorne, Vice President, Lakeview Health

Scribe:  Tania Bhattacharyya, New Directions for Women

Jordin Tate, Balboa Horizon
Mallie Tucker, Ascend Recovery
Brook Ford, Steps Recovery Center
Theo Baars, Westbridge, Inc.
Heidi Chaffee, Behavioral Health Solutions

We create these amazing events, put up the expense, and then alumni RSVP but then don’t come or forget to come.

  • Solution: Invite the alumni to get involved in the process. Ask them to call other alums.

Have events every two weeks – even simple events like a walk or see a movie – so we can promote events to discharging patients.

Confidentiality/legal issues:

  • Add to the consent form that fellow alums can call you.
  • Add preferred methods of contact – text, phone call, email.

Connect discharging alums to alumni liaison:

  • Alumni meetings
  • 12 step groups
  • No clinicians there
  • Changed “aftercare meetings” to alumni meeting.
  • Alumni Café support group

Work with a company that does voice broadcast: “Hello alumni.  This is a reminder of this event…”

Text and broadcasting blasts:

  • Send reminders at the beginning of the month and just before the event.
  • Alums prefer texts.
  • Consent – put it on your release forms.

How to backtrack and get consent from previous alums?

  • Have consent form available on your website and at your events.
  • Do one blast to make them aware of it.

Early recovery phone tree:

  • Have newly discharged patients call alumni since they’re still so connected.
  • Have alumni forward text messages to other alums they know.

Focus group or online survey:

  • “We’re trying to grow our alumni program. What would you like to see?”
  • Use gift cards as incentives. First three to arrive at event get a gift card.

Sober Living:

  • Contact Sober Living homes where your alumni live.
  • Invite everyone who lives there. It’s an opportunity to bring others into your recovery community.

2014 Collaborative Session Notes


Convener: Jim Geckler, Hazelden Betty Ford

Scribe: Emili Barbour, New Directions for Women

Tiffany Gormany, Capstone
Ami Gilland, Lakeview
Emili Barbour, New Directions for Women
Jim Geckler, Hazelden Betty Ford

How do we incorporate a diverse community?

How do we do specialized/personalized events?

  • Softball games get a certain demographic, as do marathons.
  • Not everybody is going to like everything.

Different monthly events:

  • Have alumni bring their talents to the table: art shows, music concerts, variety show
  • Sobriety: Got Talent?
  • Staff, clients, and alumni all get involved

How do we work with timing to involve everyone?

  • Involve families.

Make sure it’s inclusive so if you have a father-son camping trip, open it to any male figures in their lives.

Get creative!

Don’t fight it.  Let the events be organic.  Whoever hangs out with whoever is meant to be.  We can do something together but don’t all have to be in one group.

Include in the Discharge Packet: What kind of events would you attend?

2015 Fall Collaborative Session Notes 

Adventure Therapy and Alumni Events

Conveners: Vanessa Wentwoord, Michaels House  [email protected]

Nicole Topor, Sunspire Health Desert Palms  [email protected]


Missy Garrison, Rosecrance   [email protected]

Heidi Solomonson, Hazelden Betty Ford   [email protected]

Jaime Gibbons, Cumberland Heights    [email protected]

Brittini Lyons,  Sunspire Spring Hill    [email protected]

Jef Mullins, Waters Edge Recovery    [email protected]

Adam Blough, Waters Edge Recovery    [email protected]

Jaana Woodbury,  Northbound  [email protected]

Emili Barbour, New Directions   [email protected]

Neena Wilcox, The Bridge to Recovery   [email protected]

Brenda Capizzi, The Mesa House Inc.    [email protected]

Diana Foster, The Canyon   [email protected]

Heidi Chaffee, Sunspire Astoria Pointe   [email protected]

Carol Ricossa, The Oaks at La Paloma   [email protected]


What’s gotten alumni engaged is doing things outside of the box.

What will stick with our alumni? How can we foster the passions of our alumni?

With adventures we open up a channel to face fears and try new things.

Perceived elements of risk is a way to allow people to face their fears, but know there is safety in that, and you get alumni to connect with one another in the moment.

Adventure therapy examples: rock climbing, surfing, parasailing, camping canoeing, zip lining.

Empowerment is key, adventure therapy also introduces new interests that may start an alumni on a path to find something they love.

Experiences of action and adventure stick with them longer, having and creating healthier outlets, alumni will look forward to an adventure.

Cost effectiveness of an adventure:

Free examples:



-walks outdoors

-ask venues if they have special rates

An Adventure Contract: before every event the person is introduced too:

-safety (allergies, adhere to rules and procedures)

-kindness (be kind to yourself, staff, others)

-awareness (be present, no future tripping)


-having fun

-address all of these before the event

-Active Participation (agree to participate and engage)

Safety First!

-get trained, CPR, First Aid, and have staff members who are experienced

-releases are key, waivers need to be signed, and liability needs to be specified


Have staff involved so they can get the alumni excited, if it’s a fun enough event, people will want to come.

Before each adventure set an intention, how can we support your long term recovery?

For reunions: what can I do during this special time that’s different from what I normally do

-reconnecting with nature

-reconnecting with the “grounds” at the treatment center

-Create the “space” for adventure

2015 Fall Collaborative Session Notes 

Alumni Reunions

Conveners: Kacy Ritter, Origins  [email protected]

Elise Dubois, Rivermend Health   [email protected] 


Neena Wilcox, The Bridge to Recovery    [email protected]

Tamara Jimenez, Anaheim Lighthouse   [email protected]

Ami Brantley, Lakeview Health   [email protected]

Krystle Conner, The Right Step    [email protected]

Carol Ricossa, The Oaks at La Paloma   [email protected]

Chris Ruckert, Cirque Lodge   [email protected]


How to get people from out of state to come back?

-good timing (Spring or Late Fall)

-agenda needs to be set

-clinicians on site

-engagement throughout the year

-have regional events to capture people out of state


Ideas for the event itself:

-caricature artist

-adventure therapy

-Engage alumni all year not just at reunion time

-Engage alumni before they leave so they know you- not a stranger when they come

Fall 2015 Collaborative Notes

Community Involvement

Convener: Tami Jimenez, Anaheim Lighthouse [email protected]

Scribe:  Ami Brantley, Lakeview [email protected]

Participant:  Jocelyn Weiss, FRN Atlanta  [email protected]


Community Integration  begins while the client is still in treatment.

Offer sober fun activities and service work (Habitat for Humanity, Litter Pick Up, Animal Refuge Volunteering, etc.)

Discuss with clients that service work is not just in the rooms of AA

Collaborate with other treatment centers in the area to do activities.


Hosted a Block Party at a Sober living.

Had over 200 people in recovery attend

Had a DJ, games, dancing – promote socializing

Invited local law enforcement and EMT’s – those who see the negative impact of addiction/mental health on the community – to engage and see what recovery is all about and what the treatment centers/sober livings are doing.


Fundraising Example:

A Walk in My Shoes

Current clients and alumni were invited to paint their journey of addiction and recovery

Sold the paintings at the Art Walk and used the funds raised to pay for all recovery month events


Community Example:

Alumni referral asked program to participate in a children’s safety and prevention program that was free for the community.  Alumni spoke with the children and were asked to stay and speak to the adults.  Created a greater understanding of recovery advocacy and the need for alumni involvement in other community events.


Getting Alumni to RSVP and Show Up

Length of stay is not long enough to engage them in the purpose of the alumni program.


How do you let superiors know that communication in the community is vital? How can we convince the facility to support alumni in the community?

  • Started with the Chamber of Commerce, attending as many events as possible to network & cultivate relationships with the local legislature & governmental officials, congress, senate, Assembly members, city council members
  • Attend all legislative committee meetings, sometimes city council meetings. Ask questions that relate to addiction to get “the ball rolling” in the room.
  • Field Representatives love to talk & will tour your treatment facility. Request to provide alumni volunteers at events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce because no background checks are required.  These events usually involve government officials – use this time to create awareness, change the stigma, get alumni involved in more than just volunteering, helps educate the alums about government.
    • Less than a week after helping with a tour, an Assemblyman’s office forwarded an email from a constituent asking for help for someone. Created a new referral source!

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Contact Information

Treatment Professionals in Alumni Services
PO Box 1152
Salida, CO 81201
(757) 784-7550


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