Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rams in Recovery
In August 2013, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) launched its program for students in recovery with an ice cream social. The idea for a collegiate recovery community (CRC) had been a dream for years, but it wasn’t until treatment professionals, parents of students in recovery and representatives from the university’s Wellness Resource Center met in a local coffee shop and committed themselves to Rams in Recovery that the program became a reality.
Since that first ice cream social, about 30 students have passed through, and about 10 members attend regularly, explains Kristen Donovan, MPH, assistant director for substance abuse prevention at VCU. Students may join weekly meetings, including a new 12-Step meeting, attend a monthly speaker series featuring recovering students and alumni, and participate in affordable, drug-and-alcohol-free outings offered by VCU’s Outdoor Adventure Center. And although the group doesn’t have a space of its own, the Baptist College Ministry has invited the CRC to use its building.
That kind of support, coupled with financial backing from the JHW Foundation and a grant from the Stacie Mathewson Foundation, is helping Rams in Recovery grow. In addition, the program is becoming a leader in Virginia’s collegiate recovery movement. Its steering committee developed the first Virginia CRC Conference, which VCU will host again March 28–29, 2015.
“Doors are opening because people in the VCU community think supporting students in recovery is important enough to donate time, resources, and hard work,” Donovan says. “Even though the current program is very small…, students within the program have told me that it gives them a sense of validation that VCU is doing something for students in recovery.”