Meet the man building connections
How long have you been running the Alumni program at Bellwood?
“6 years at Bellwood”
What is the Alumni program and how does it benefit our patients?
“My vision for the Alumni program is to influence the importance of connection. What it does for our patients here is [it] gives them an opportunity to meet other alumni and program graduates. It allows them to see that there is a life in recovery that can be fun… I believe it affects the family just as much as our current patients and our alumni, [so] when a person is recovering from addiction the family needs support as well. If the client is struggling and the family member is [participating in] events or volunteering…then this program makes it easier to have that support.”
Which words would you use to describe the Alumni family here at Bellwood?
“Opportunity, Connection, Unity, Family, Togetherness, Love”
What type of events do Alumni get to experience?
“Third Monday of every month we have Alumni events here at Bellwood on the property and a BBQ in the summer days. We organize a speaker who comes in to discuss topics that are chosen amongst the alumni committee and current inpatients. We have had topics such as support, connection and even family. There is a serious side to it that takes place in Bellwood and then the fun side of it where members can attend events like Blue jays games, Laser tag and even spaghetti dinners over the holidays. It allows people to have more ways to make connections and meet like-minded people.”
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you at Bellwood?
“Just in general watching families get better, because not all families do get better. [Also] the way I see how this connection works, [beginning] with Dr. Gordon Bell who founded our facility…[and]…who was very involved with creating the early programs… Although he [is no longer with us] his wife is still invited to the Alumni events. When I was able to introduce her to our Alumni community so she can share her story…to see the reaction from the committee is one of those moments that really stood out to me.”
Is there anything else you would like to share with me?
“From my experience, you come here a hurt person and your family comes here a hurt unit. I think if you can get through those hardest times you can get through anything, but it has to start with connection. For myself, in December it will mark 9 years of sobriety since I graduated [from] Bellwood. Just making that connection and trying to reconnect with family, you really have to cherish the connections you have because they are connections you could have lost.”