A community college supports the academic endeavors of its students. That support often includes helping students deal with personal challenges and needs beyond the classroom.
Northeast State Community College students and staff sought to meet those challenges by collaborating to create Students HOPE (Hold On Pain Ends), a collegiate recovery program (CRP) dedicated to creating a recovery community within the campus culture. The Students HOPE mission seeks to pair educational opportunity with recovery support to ensure students do not have to sacrifice one for the other.
The College hosts the inaugural Students HOPE program event on Feb. 4 on the Blountville campus. The event welcomes keynote speaker Monica Tucker, a Northeast State alumna and professional peer counselor for recovery. Establishing the Students HOPE program makes Northeast State the first community college in Tennessee to establish a CRP on campus.
The event will provide an opportunity for students to become more familiar with Students HOPE and its mission. The CRP seeks to offer support to students who are: in recovery for substance abuse; wanting to be in recovery; or wishing to support others on their recovery journey. The program seeks to build a community to assist students in recovery through providing support, preventing a relapse, encouraging autonomy, and increasing academic success.
The genesis of Students HOPE began when student officers with Alpha Iota Chi – the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society – began working with Northeast State administration to help further their goals for the college. Northeast State President Dr. Bethany Flora expressed to students her desire for the college to become the first community college in Tennessee to establish a CRP on campus.
The chapter’s officer team and advisors moved forward meeting with other departments on campus to develop the recovery program. The college’s office of Counseling Services joined the CRP project to assist students in recovery. The Counseling Services staff provides free short-term counseling, crisis intervention, and referral services for students struggling with support issues.
The CRP itself consists of two support groups: a recovery group and a family support group. The recovery group assists students who are recovering addicts. The recovery group provides support, education, and fellowship for students in recovery. A peer recovery specialist and students in recovery will facilitate the group meetings. The recovery group will meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the Basler Library.
The family support group addresses students with relatives in recovery or active addiction. A professional counselor and students with family members suffering from an addictive disorder will facilitate the family support group. This group meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month in Basler Library.
During the planning process, the parties decided to not only establish a CRP, but also a student-led organization to pair with it. Northeast State Professor Tricia Crawford and Director of Counseling Services Denise Walker volunteered their time to serve as faculty advisors for the organization.
The Students HOPE student organization welcomes any student interested in membership. The club provides organizational activities, set up for the meeting space for the weekly recovery groups, and plans fundraisers to support the recovery program. To learn more about the program visit the HOPE webpage at northeaststate.edu/HOPE
Students interested in joining Students HOPE club do not have to attend recovery or support meetings or personally struggle with addiction. They are welcomed to contribute to the program by setting up meetings, helping raise funds, and providing ancillary support. The student club is also creating a calendar of services available to students to include counselors available to meet with students in need.
The Northeast State CRP program adheres to the guidelines set forth by the Association of Recovery in Higher Education (ARHE). The ARHE is the only association representing collegiate recovery programs, students, and faculty and staff members that support such programs. The University of Virginia, Appalachian State University, and Central Piedmont Community College are among the more than 125 CRPs currently represented by ARHE.
(Contributed by Kayti Stout, Northeast State student/Alpha Iota Chi officer)