by: Gina Thorne, Business Development Coordinator at Harmony Foundation and TPAS Board President
It’s hard to believe it’s only been two weeks that I said my good-byes to my TPAS friends in Virginia Beach. This year marks my 8th Collaborative and I continue to leave each one with valuable insight into this field of Recovery Support Services or (alumni programming). Not only do I find myself connecting with people who have the same passion and commitment to long-term sobriety, but I also find a renewed energy with fresh ideas for the important work we do.
Each time I attend a Collaborative a few common themes emerge, loneliness, burnout, and lack of self care. These feelings are not from the alumni themselves, rather from our alumni champions, coordinators and directors who often feel like they are an “island unto themselves” in the work of alumni relations. What happens at a Collaborative that has such a powerful impact on people in our field? What does a Collaborative offer that other conferences in our field do not? Listening to our peers, I often hear how it’s the real human connections they are making, the fostering of shared ideas with other contemporaries, and the willingness to mentor and coach those entering the field that has made all the difference in recharging them to do the hard work of engagement.
The Collaboratives happen only twice a year, but the movement of engagement, sharing and peer support is on-going. I speak to all of our friends in the field of recovery management that “recharging” doesn’t have to wait until a TPAS Collaborative. I encourage you to take advantage of your new friends coast to coast. Reach out to your TPAS friends through the [email protected] list serve and share your pain points, successes and questions. If your new to alumni programming, connect with us through our website at www.tpasrecovery.org and learn how you can register and participate in our next Collaborative. Consider joining a TPAS committee and bring your strengths and talents to the alumni movement.
TPAS is build on the passion of volunteers. The fire remains alive because the cause matters. I’m not sure if I selfishly stay connected to TPAS because of the deep friendships I’ve made or if its the amazing ideas that have been generated and carried to my alumni programs. Either way, TPAS is a game changer. I invite you to stay connected and prepared to be surprised!