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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
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.