All of our 30 staff members are graduates of our recovery program. They have experienced everything that the newest resident will experience. As a result, this is a “we” program where sobriety comes first and everything else is “on the shelf” while our staff teaches them how to build a defense against alcohol and drugs. Our staff includes counselors, managers at three levels, intake coordinators and directors for both the women and men’s recovery programs.
Our General Manager is an alumnus with 15 years of sobriety and an outstanding coordinator of weekly panels in the community, where the message of sobriety is freely given to newcomers.
Each one of our staff members takes pride in being sober and all of them work hard to help others. Most of our staff are volunteers who stay with us long term. When they do leave, many go to the other programs of recovery in the area where they stand strong in their programs. In 2014 we have over 20 Yellowstone alumni working as staff in other programs ranging from drivers up to directors and this is in Orange County alone. Some come back from distant places as staff members for these other programs because they know Orange County is where the heart of recovery lies.
We are very proud of our alumni. Every week at our Sunday Speaker Meeting, as many as seven alumni return to celebrate sober birthdays. Although most celebrate one or two years of sobriety, we also have many alumni with 13, 14 and 15 years sober. The first woman to achieve a year of sobriety through our program of recovery now has 17 years clean and sober.
Our alumni often return to fellowship with the new residents and regularly become their sponsors. Yellowstone is a center for newcomers to hear a message passed on through our alumni. They have not only succeeded in staying sober for long periods of time, they have also begun to realize the promises of the program.
Many alumni continue to attend meetings required for our recovery program residents, and together they are well represented at outside meetings: Yellowstone is “in the house” in greater and greater numbers.
Every Thursday night all the houses come together to cook for the weekly women’s and men’s meeting where they are joined by alumni. They share their stories and their successes and give hope to the new men and women. This is a critical part of our program, and it works, again and again.
The circle of alumni is important for all of us. Increasingly they are working in the community and building sober relationships where they live. Some return to Yellowstone sober living when living out there becomes difficult. The alumni are clearly the backbone of our program.
Each year, we have an alumni party, where as many as 400 come for fun, dancing, music, games and fellowship. This is not our only fun event or the biggest. Some would say the softball games are the most fun; win or lose our fan club grows. Our biggest event also depends on our alumni who are of service at our annual fundraiser. This is a “pay it forward” event where all monies collected go to scholarships for those who have nothing and no place to go, many of those who are receive a scholarship are now alumni returning to help others who are currently in the place they were in before they found our recovery program. Last year one of our alumni started a Yellowstone scholarship supported almost entirely by alumni for those who are temporarily “stuck” and need extra support.
Our residents become alumni: many of our alumni become staff, and all of us grow together in recovery.