Submit your story to the Recovery Voices online publication

Submit your story to the Recovery Voices online publication

Want to share your story of recovery, community organizing, and opinions with the world?

Our voices deserve to be heard. Each of us has a unique perspective and story to add to the national discussion of recovery and America’s long-standing addiction crisis.

You can submit your stories and opinions to the Recovery Advocacy Project online publication, Recovery Voices using the online blogging site, Medium.

Here is quick how-to guide for submitting your story.

1. Create your Medium Account

Medium is an online writing platform for anyone in the world to share their stories, ideas and opinions with the world. You can create an account for free and start writing right away. When you sign up, you’ll be asked to link your account with one of your social networks making it easy to sign-in to your account in the future.

Medium has a great help section to get you started.

Take me to the help section

I’m ready to sign up

 

2. After you’ve created your account on Medium, write your story.

Once you’re all signed up you can begin writing right away. In the upper righthand corner of the page, select your profile then, select new story.

Show me how

 

3. Send the Recovery Advocacy Project a request to be a writer of the Recovery Voices publication.

After you’ve created your account and first story, ask us to be a writer for Recovery Voices by sending an email to our editor at sean@recoveryvoices.com. Once we get your request, you’ll receive an invitation via email from us on Medium. Accept the invitation and begin writing your first story!

Visit our publication

4. Publish your story to the Recovery Voices publication.

Once you receive your invitation to be a contributor of the Recovery Voices publication, you can submit your stories to the publication.

Go to edit the story you’ve written, then in the menu options, you can select where you would like your story to be published – both on your personal page and in the Recovery Voices publication.

Show me how

Host a monthly recovery advocacy team meeting

Host a monthly recovery advocacy team meeting

Defining a Community Recovery Advocacy Team Meeting

A community Recovery Advocacy Team meeting is a convening of dedicated individuals from all pathways, family members and supporters working to promote recovery through grassroots and community based solutions regarding the long standing addiction crisis.

  • This step-by-step HOW TO will help you in your community organizes practices once you've built a base of advocates.

Why it is important to host community recovery advocacy team meetings 

  • Recovery Advocacy Team Meetings give community members a space to have their voices heard.
  • Thinking and Acting locally is made simpler by bringing together individuals to build community capacity to demand solutions together.
  • Expand your network, open new doors, and maximize your community organizing efforts.
  • There is strength in numbers.
  • Opens up forms of communication that would otherwise not exist.
  • Allows for opportunities to assess current community assets and needs.

Recovery Advocates from all over the country have benefited from various forms of hosting local volunteer Recovery Advocacy Team meetings. Here is a step by step guide, and some best practices for each step, so you can work towards hosting your own monthly team meetings to work towards community solutions.

Step by Step Guide to hosting monthly advocacy meetings

1. Create a list of potential invites to your initial meeting.

This list is an important step. Your list of invites for your Recovery Advocacy Team can include likely participants like people in recovery, family members, and other supporters of recovery.

Your list could also include participants that could be considered non-traditional.

Some of these non-traditional participants could include

  • Activists or community leaders for other social justice causes
  • Workers in the prevention or treatment community
  • Faith leaders
  • Student groups
  • Educators
  • Veterans
  • Criminal Justice Advocates
  • Health and Wellness workers
  • Members of organized parent groups
  • Leaders from racial and ethnically diverse communities
  • LGBTQIAA Community
  • Disabled/Differing abled Community
  • Mental Health Services and Recovery Community

Enroll others in creating this list with you. A small group of 2 or 3 people can make a big difference in the end result of your list. This will help to distribute responsibilities, promote unity and connections.

This should be an ongoing list that you add to. Once you begin to have Recovery Advocacy Team meetings regularly, you can work with your new team members to invite additional volunteers they think would add to the team.

Your list should include people within a fair driving distance.

2. Create an invite online, or printed copies to hand out, with a location, date, time, and description for your first meeting.

Invite your list over email, social media sites like Facebook, word of mouth, or by phone. Be clear about what you are asking people to attend. Many people, in and out of recovery, may assume it is a mutual support group meeting/12 step, so it is important to provide specifics in your invitation.

 

Invite Template

Download this template that you can edit and use as your invite for your community meetings.

Pick a location in advance that will fit the number of expected participants. Request permission to use the space, and work to reserve a date and time there. Some common spaces that could host your Recovery Advocacy Meeting are office spaces, coffee shops, community centers, library rooms, or classrooms.

Give people enough time to RSVP and add it to their calendars.

Choose a time that is easy for people to attend, like after common work hours during the week, or a weekend.

Provide food and refreshments for your meetings. You can also work with a local food vendor to provide donations, or have a pot luck!

Possibly allow for call in or Facetime participation. This may be helpful to some that may have a further drive or can only attend a portion of the meeting, but keep in mind it could result in less people in the room, and less of a personalized atmosphere. 

3. Keep track of RSVP’s, so you can build your advocate invite email (contact) list for future Advocacy Team meetings.

Build upon your Recovery Advocacy Team meeting over time.  There is an ebb and flow to volunteer work. You can expect to build up a dependable core group of people over time that attend the meetings, and many other people who attend when they can, but don’t show up every time.

Create an excel file, or email group, of team member’s contact information and build it over time. This makes it easier to send email invites, and keep track of how people prefer to be contacted. You can encourage all individuals to be a part of the Recovery Advocacy Project, and sign them up to be added to the state Action Network. They will be able to receive guidance from the tools provided and access to their state leads.

Create a Facebook Group page for your team to communicate between Recovery Advocacy Team meetings. This can also serve as a home to send reminders before each meeting.

4. Send reminders before every meeting.

Volunteers have busy lives. Not everyone will attend every meeting, but reminders sent one week, and a day or two before each meeting, will help your team members prioritize it. Encourage your team to add each meeting to their calendars.

At the end of each Recovery Advocacy Team meeting, you should work with the team to come up with the next meeting’s date. This will most likely increase your attendance each month.

Many Recovery Advocacy Teams choose the same day each month for the sake of consistency (Ex. “We meet the third Saturday of every month.”)

5. Create a meeting agenda.

Creating an agenda for each Recovery Advocacy Team meeting in your community shows people you are organized, and keeps the meeting on track. Here is a sample you can follow. See sample >>

Always have a Welcome and Introductions portion of the agenda, even if it is the same people attending each month. Asking people to share their names and why they came to the meeting is important. This allows your team to learn what each member is passionate about, practices the sharing their stories, builds the bond of your team, and allows new advocates to find their voices.

Listen carefully during the Welcome and Introduction portion of the agenda. You may be able to identify and suggest a project based on some commonalities between your team members.

Print out copies of the agenda for everyone, or write it somewhere in the room where everyone can follow it.

Don’t get too off track. Sometimes in group settings, a meeting can go off course.  Work to balance listening to people while staying on track with the agenda. This takes practice.

There should be an update and progress of the current projects the team is working on, and the team members should know what they are contributing to that project.

There should be space on the agenda for “What’s next?”

Always have a section in the agenda for “Additions to the Agenda” so if there are members that need to add something at the meeting, they can always have their voices heard.

While managing your meeting

  • • Always ask someone to take note (minutes) of the meeting. This can be something you volunteer to do yourself or entrust in another core member of your team. This helps with future agendas and updates for other meetings.
  • • Be mindful of how often you are speaking. Your role is to manage and prompt discussion through the team’s agenda and solutions. Ask open ended questions to the team. Open ended questions are questions that are not limited to just a “yes” or a “no”. An example of an open ended question is “What do you all feel like is the most important issues regarding addiction in our community, and what are some ways we, as a Recovery Advocacy Team, can highlight solutions to it?”
  • • Be sure to acknowledge when good work is being done from meeting to meeting. This is meant to be a space where you can empower and encourage your team members.
  • • You may have a group where some advocates are talkative and dominant, while others are quiet and reserved. Be sure everyone is having their voices heard and no one feels left out.
  • • Create project leads for specific projects so the team knows who to get an update from. The team of volunteers should be working together.
  • • Run the meeting the same way regardless of how many people are in attendance. Don’t get discouraged if only a few people show up that month. Often times, more work can get done with less people.
  • • Your Recovery Advocacy Team members will follow your lead. Be sure to set a positive, determined, and focused example for them each time you run a meeting.

Beyond the meeting

  • • Get to know the strengths and talents of your team members. For example, you may discover that you have volunteers that knowing some key decision makers, have graphic design experience, have access to the local radio station, possess writing talents for opinion pieces, or have a large social media following. Each team across the country is unique. Be sure to discover the unique strengths of your team members.
  • • Make sure the team is setting realistic goals. For example, if the team wants to plan an event, be sure that the team has enough team meetings to make the event a reality. Most events could take 3-4 meetings to plan the logistics. Your goal should be to create a space for your team to accomplish their objectives
  • • Be sure to have a contact sign-up sheet at the community events your team hosts, for people interested in joining your advocacy team
  • • Use the RAP Advocate Card to recruit potential new Recovery Advocacy Team members. Make a list of events already happening in your community and see if you can request setting up a table at the event to educate others on your team meetings and purpose.
  • • Ask team members to bring a friend or family to the next meeting to build capacity.

List of potential projects for your team

  • • Create a Community Recovery Resource Guide
  • • Organize a community town hall meeting to highlight an issue affecting your community and provide speakers and solutions. 
  • • Organize a letter writing campaign to support important legislation.
  • • September Recovery Month Activities
  • • Overdose Awareness Month/Day Activity
  • • Alcohol Awareness Month Activity (April)
  • • Host a local training/educational event
  • • Host a fun event for people in recovery
  • • Host Drug and Alcohol Free Recovery Holiday Events
  • • Organize a meeting with your local elected officials or their staff
  • • Community needs assessment

Create a Recovery Asset and Resource Map

Create a Recovery Asset and Resource Map

Defining a Recovery Asset and Resource Map

An asset map is an inventory of community (local, state, or virtual) strengths and resources that has the potential to guide recovery advocates towards solutions, provide recovery support services, and potentially identify what is needed. Once resources are depicted on the grassroots level, advocates should be able to build on these assets while addressing community needs to make it easier for people to find and maintain recovery.

You may find that many counties, state agencies, or local organizations have already created one of these resources. In the spirit of collaboration and connection, find out if you can help update it, or recategorize into the areas listed below.

  • This step-by-step HOW TO will help you in your effort to familiarize yourself and your community with what exists and is still needed around you in regards to recovery support.

Why it is important for organizers to develop a Recovery Asset and Resource Map 

  • A detailed asset and resource map can help guide individuals or family members looking for recovery support services they may not otherwise have known existed. Many asset maps can be the beginning of developing a simple and local resource guide for those seeking help.
  • Expanding your own personal knowledge of what is available and not available around you benefits you as a community organizer.
  • It is important for grassroots advocates to have their finger on the pulse of the community in which they live. We can become local recovery experts.
  • Having an idea of the lack of resources can help guide local advocacy efforts to potentially address any community shortcomings.
  • Many potential grant funders request an asset and resource scan.
  • Producing a Recovery Asset and Resource Map makes it easier to potentially build a coalition of advocates or organizations around issues you care about that affect many people in your area.

Step by Step Guide to Mapping Your Community’s Assets

1. Determine the scope of your Recovery Asset and Resource Map

Depending on the goals of your team, you will have to determine if a Recovery Asset and Resource Map should be done at the community level, county level (and maybe a few surrounding counties) sections of your state, legislative districts, or statewide. This can be determined by asking the team who you are working to assist. 

Take some time to revisit what your Recovery Advocacy Project’s team vision or mission is before beginning your map. You may also belong to an organization that has a strategic plan. It will be helpful to consult this plan to see where your map may assist the organization.

2. Review the Recovery-Ready Community graphic provided by our friends at Young People in Recovery below.

You may even have additional ideas of what could make a Recovery-Ready Community that may not fall into any of the categories provided in the graphic. Trust your instincts and do a scan for those resources as well!

You can also consult the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Eight dimensions of Wellness to expand your map. Take a look and see if it can lead to additional resources around you in step 3.

3. Create a list of resources you know that may fall into each one of these categories in the area you have determined to focus on. Also, take some time to conduct a quick internet resource scan to add to the list of resources.

You may even have some allies that specialize in one or more of the categories that you could reach out to for assistance. There may be resources you didn’t even realize were provided in your local community or state.

NOTE:  Some resources you may discover in the internet scan could be out of date, or even could be paid advertisements for resources out of state.

4. Determine what is missing that the team is most passionate about.

What are the community needs that stick out to you? This will help you to identify initial organizing projects to take steps towards in your local community or state.  

5. Identify potential partners, allies, decision makers, and advocates in your community that could assist you now, or in the future.

This is an important list for you to reference and continue to add to in your local community organizing efforts. When we refer to decision makers, we are referring to elected officials, leaders in law enforcement, faith community leadership, school officials, or other community leaders.  

6. Determine if some of the solutions to any area needs could be either community or legislative based .

There may be existing community or legislative efforts that are already underway. It is important to do a little research and ask someone who knows about statewide initiatives and policies may already exist that you can add your effort to. Many states have recovery organizations that have public policy experts and may be able to help you with this.

7. Share your Recovery Asset and Resource map with others to educate individuals in communities where to go if they are seeking recovery support services.

Look to social media, non-profit organization websites, town (city) & county websites, Blog sites, family and parent groups, and recovery community organizations as potential spaces that could promote your Recovery Asset and Resource Map to help spread the word

*The Recovery Advocacy Project organizing team would like to thank Young People in Recovery for the use of the graphic and some of the language provided in this guide.

 

Building your advocacy base

Building your advocacy base

Defining an Advocacy Base

An advocacy base is a local core group of dedicated supporters of the community organizing work you do. This can include aspects of in person, technical, or moral support in your efforts. Your advocacy base should be a group of people you can rely on when there are local actions or you need help organizing your local advocacy projects.

  • This HOW TO can apply to both local community and state recovery organizations.
  • This HOW TO will have two key parts to help in your organizing.

Building Your Base

Why it is important to build your Advocacy Base.

  • Part of being a successful community organizer depends on your ability to identify, motivate, and encourage a core base of advocates to help you in your efforts.
  • There is strength in numbers.
  • Allows you to understand that you are not alone in your organizing efforts.
  • Building a core base helps you to avoid frustration and fatigue as a community organizer.
  • Your advocacy base will open up additional doors for organizing opportunities, increase visibility on the issues you all support, build relationships with local decision makers, and form new community and organizational partnerships.

Recovery advocates and organizations from all over the country have benefited from advocate and volunteer outreach. Here is a step by step guide and some best practices to work towards building and sustaining your own advocacy base.

Step by Step Guide to Building your Advocacy Base

1.     Understand that building your Advocacy Base begins with you.

Many of you might be asking, “Where do I even start when I build my advocacy base?” Our answer at the Recovery Advocacy Project is “This starts with you.” Understanding what you bring to the table as a leader, community organizer, or advocate is significant to understanding your vision in building an advocacy base.

Take some time to assess your own strengths, passions, leadership and organizing skills. You are an important part of your own advocacy base. Here is a Leadership Assessment you can use for help with this practice. Download Leadership Assessment

After your assessment, take a look at what you can focus on to improve your organizing skills.  Ask yourself what your next level of leadership looks like. If you have people in your network you can learn from, be sure to ask for assistance.   

2.     Create a core list of potential individuals within your network that you think would join you in your advocacy efforts.

This list may range from 5, to 10, to 50+ people. No matter how many individuals end up on your initial list, these individuals came to mind for good reason. Trust your instinct when drafting your list.

The list may include:

  • People in Recovery
  • Supporters of Recovery
  • Family groups
  • Prevention and treatment providers
  • Criminal Justice Advocates

Use your Recovery Asset and Resource Map to improve your outreach list. Find the HOW TO: Create a Recovery Asset and Resource Map HERE

Think outside the box while creating your list. There may be people you can contact that would be willing to take part in your advocacy efforts. Some additional individuals may include advocates for mental health, faith leaders, known community leaders.

Scan your Facebook list of friends, email contacts, phone contacts, and other social media accounts to identify some potential advocates in your area.

Consult the list you created in the HOW TO: Host a Recovery Community Advocacy Meeting to see if there are any additions to be made.

3.     Use a recruitment tool to make collecting contacts of your potential advocacy base easier.

The Recovery Advocacy Team Project has some tools already available to you to build your advocacy base.

One tool many advocates are using is the Recovery Advocacy Team Project Advocate Card. When grassroots advocates complete this RAP Card they will be added to communications from the Recovery Advocacy Project Leadership, and invited to join their regional RAP Facebook pages found HERE.

Encouraging potential advocates to sign up to advocate on the RAP website also automatically organizes them on the state level through the action network for you. You can direct state advocates to your state Recovery Advocacy Project pages.

You may choose to create and use your own recruitment tool similar to the RAP Advocate Card to reflect your community or state.

Assemble advocacy start up packs, and always keep them with you, to hand to your potential base. This pack can include your business card, the RAP Advocate Card, a flyer for your upcoming events or meetings, or information about social media sites linked to your advocacy efforts.

4.     Have consistent community meetings for your advocates to attend.

Learn more about how to host a Recovery Advocacy Project Meeting HERE. Having ongoing-local meetings for interested advocates to attend can be the center of both building and sustaining your base. These community meetings with your neighbors can keep advocates engaged, focused, and working together towards common goals.

Encourage your core team of advocates to share about the next upcoming meetings that are scheduled. The Recovery Community is a word of mouth community, so the enthusiasm generated from your team meetings will spread the word

5.     Create a simple Facebook Group page for your Advocacy Base to join.

Be specific in describing your community Facebook Group.

Example:

The Hamilton Township Advocates for Addiction Recovery meets periodically to provide community based solutions around an addiction crisis affecting many families and our neighbors in Hamilton. We are made up of dedicated people in recovery, family members, and supporters of recovery. Join this Facebook Page for updates on upcoming community meetings, campaigns, projects, and events. 

Make consistent updates to your Facebook Page including local news articles, victories (large and small), inspirational quotes about recovery, local partnerships, local blog articles, community calls to action, and reminders for upcoming local advocacy meetings or events.

Keep all posts page related.

Ask to link your Facebook page and Recovery Advocacy Recruitment tools to existing organizations in your area. Make a quick scan of organizations that would support your advocacy efforts and inquire about partnership.

As the group identifies mission/vision and goals, be sure to update the page and any materials.

Feel free to link any of these toolkit pieces to your Facebook Group page to help guide your advocacy base during community projects. 

Take the time to write your own blog posts and share with the Facebook Group.  Many advocates have used the platform Medium to share writing for local and national issues. www.medium.com

You can find a helpful guide for writing content on Medium here.

Sustaining Your Base

1.     Have consistent recovery advocacy community meetings for your advocates to attend.

Learn more about how to host a Recovery Advocacy Project Meeting HERE. Having ongoing-local meetings for interested advocates to attend can be the center of both building and sustaining your base. These community meetings with your neighbors can keep advocates engaged, focused, and working together towards common goals.

Hosting regular meeting builds momentum and a team mentality that will be easier to keep individuals engaged. It also creates a platform for newly interested advocates to participate. The Recovery Advocacy Project recommends you host a meeting on a monthly basis. Many more best practices for this can be found in the HOW TO: Host a Recovery Advocacy Meeting piece of the toolkit on the RAP website.

2.     Create campaigns for your community members to engage in.

Organizing your efforts into an official campaign gives your advocacy base something you are known for, inspires others to take part, and keeps your advocates engaged.

Neighborhood or community campaigns can catch the attention of your neighbors. For example, if you are working to start a campaign to expand on the availability of Narcan (Naloxone) in public buildings you can use the campaign as a way to educate community members on the “what, the “why”, and the “how of your campaign.

EXAMPLE:

“What” To require all town public building to stock Narcan.

“Why” Narcan saves lives and can lead individuals struggling with addiction towards recovery. “How” Petition the town hall and Mayor’s office by collecting 200+ signatures of town residents.

Come up with a name for your campaign that tells of its purpose and potentially grabs the attention of the public and local decision makers.

EXAMPLE: The “Hamilton Township Save a Life Campaign”

3.     Email an electronic newsletter for your advocates.

Communication is key. In addition to communicating with your advocates through social media, collecting emails with the RAP Advocate Cards, or a Card you create for your local area allows you to report on progress of your local advocacy efforts, link local articles related to addiction and recovery, and remind individuals of upcoming advocacy meetings and community events.

Communications like an electronic newsletter should only be done periodically. Receiving an email once a month, every other month, or every three months will not be too much for your advocates.

Create a simple logo and name for your electronic newsletter. (Ex: The Hamilton Township E-News) There are free sites and apps like Canva you can use to create your logo.

Number your electronic newsletter (Ex. Edition 1, Edition 2, etc.) This can show people that join your email newsletter that this is ongoing and is organized. It may also be a good practice to ask new members if they want to receive the last couple of newsletters so they can get a better idea of the work you and your advocates accomplish locally. 

Many people do not want their email address shared with others. When sending your Advocacy e-mails always use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) line when sending out emails.  You can also set up free mass email accounts using sites like Mailchimp to avoid this.

4.     Use tools provided in The Action Network.

There are online tools you can use to help you guide, build, and sustain your advocacy base both locally and on the state level. Your state Action Networks will be created for you and we will link them here on the Recovery Advocacy Project website soon. 

5.     Make a list of upcoming community events.

Many communities, municipalities, and counties have online calendars. Spend some time researching upcoming events and conferences online that may be appropriate for you or your advocates to attend and talk to participants about your advocacy efforts. Inquire about potential speaking programs you can take part in, panel discussions, or resource tables you can set up at. You may find Health Fairs, Community Days, holiday celebrations, or local festivals.

Build relationships with the individuals who assemble these local calendars.  You can promote your upcoming advocacy meetings and community events on these pages. Some just require an online submission.

Local libraries and town community centers also tend to be a center for hosting or promoting community events. Contact them to see how you can stay updated.

6.     Assemble advocacy start up packs, and always keep them with you, to hand to your potential base.

This applies to both building and sustaining your advocacy base. This advocacy start up pack can include your business card, the RAP Advocate Card, a flyer for your upcoming events or meetings, or information about social media sites linked to your advocacy efforts.

Keep a few packets with you in your vehicle.

Ask local recovery supportive businesses, Alano Clubs, and Recovery Community Centers to display some as well. Use the advocacy start up packs as a good conversation starter with local organizations.

Enroll your core advocates in keeping advocacy packets with them to build and sustain your advocacy base.