That Community Spirit Shines Through

The CRC also encourages graduates from other institutions who are considering UAB for graduate school or continuing education to get involved.

“Some have taken on an active role by leading meetings or starting new groups in collaboration with members,” Silva says. “This involvement allows them to see how our CRC is a space for them.”

In winter 2016, the CRC hosted its first UAB Collegiate Recovery Conference, Recovery Unite, which attracted 150 attendees from the UAB and Birmingham communities. The goal was to bring many abstinence-based Birmingham recovery entities together for a day of recovery seminars, workshops, speakers and fellowship. Students produced the conference from conception to execution: They invited clinicians to speak, set the program, made the reservations and coordinated registration.

“It was such a success that we hope to do it every year,” Silva says.

Let’s Have Some Fun

Students in recovery run the risk of feeling isolated from their peers during the off-hours when social events occur. The CRC fills this gap by providing a social outlet that encourages relationships and planning activities that are meaningful and supportive of health and well-ness. Most activities are planned in consultation with the students.

This year, it hosted its second Sober Spring Break, a week of events that provide participants and allies with safe and healthy alternatives for spring break.

“Spring break is a triggering time for most college students in recovery,” Silva says. “We want to give them an opportunity to have fun sober.”

Activities included wall climbing, an equine-assisted wellness workshop and a kayaking trip. Last year, the week culminated in a community cookout, which included people in treatment centers and those in the community who are in recovery.

“It’s important that students who have made a commitment to sobriety forge a connection with the larger recovery community,” Silva says. “It is also a way to give back to the community that has helped them so much.”

This summer, the CRC plans to repeat its Fourth of July cookout.

“It was so much fun for everyone,” Silva says. “We gathered at a spot on campus that has a great view of the fireworks display, played music and served food.”

In the fall, it hosts Sobertober Fest for students, staff, alumni and guests, where participants enjoy a pumpkin carving contest, campfire, costume contest, food, music and prizes.

Birmingham is a hub for Refuge Recovery, a mindfulness meditation recovery program based on Buddhist philosophy.

“A couple of students in the CRC were attending this program off campus and wanted to start a similar meditation group here,” Silva says. “It is 12-step-informed and abstinence-based. The students meet in our dedicated space in the Wellness House every Saturday night for Moonlight Meditation.”

Now, the CRC is setting its sights on building capacity and adding more academic support by pursuing a formal collaboration with the Vulcan Materials Academic Success Center, which provides services such

as tutoring, supplemental instruction, academic advising, success advising and workshops. Other goals include working with the advising office to prioritize students in recovery, collaborating with Career Services to host workshops at the Wellness House and making the student leadership body official.

It also plans on building its alumni community.

“As alumni members grow, the CRC is looking at ways for them to stay engaged in a systematic way, such as inviting them to speak or to serve as mentors,” Silva says. “They are members of our family, and that doesn’t change when they graduate.”

Written by Patti Zielinski

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