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
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