The Recovery Support Alumni Experience – Staying Connected

people recovery support alumni


The recovery support alumni groups offered at Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers are a valuable resource that both current and past clients are welcome to take part in. Our alumni meetings are gender-specific. And they take place in Sanford’s residential homes, situated in the Heritage Hill District of Grand Rapids.


A lot goes on at Sanford on Wednesdays. Wednesday evenings we welcome clients’ loved ones to join our Family Program. The Family Program provides education on the disease of addiction and how to be supportive during the recovery process. These sessions are strictly for loved ones. Clients (current and past) do not attend. Following the family psychoeducation session and family visiting hour, we host our weekly alumni meetings. Past clients are invited to arrive a few minutes early – and current clients are encouraged to attend but aren’t required (we have yet to have a client opt out of an alumni meeting). Alumni meeting nights at Sanford are arguably the most exciting night of the week. The meetings take place in a safe and accepting environment, and it’s always a great time!


Recovery Support for Alumni and Clients …

At Sanford we understand that addiction is a chronic disease. Which means that it is not “curable”. And individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) benefit from ongoing support after treatment.


The alumni meetings are one of things I am most proud of at Sanford. We implemented our weekly recovery-support meetings with the hope of providing support to both alumni and current clients, while reducing stigma and offering a safe-space for the individuals we serve to connect with one another in a therapeutic environment. Rae Rabideau, MS


Our alumni meetings allow past clients to stay involved in the recovery community. And they also provide ongoing support for those who want to stay connected after treatment. Past clients of Sanford also benefit from receiving feedback and support from staff and current clients. Especially, because meetings take place in the homes where many of their recovery journeys began.


recovery support alumni

The living room – Sanford House at Cherry Street


Welcome back …

Some of our past clients simply enjoy the camaraderie and attend our alumni meetings weekly. Others come sporadically when they feel they need the additional support. Our clients learn on “Day 1” of treatment that they are welcome to come back to Sanford after their episode of care for weekly recovery support groups. In addition to the weekly recovery support meetings offered, the Sanford Alumni Program also hosts other activities such as family picnics, bowling, and sporting event outings.


Not only do our past clients find value in our weekly alumni meetings, but our current clients benefit greatly from hearing about the experiences of others further along in recovery. During our Recovery Support Alumni Meetings, our current clients get to hear from past residents about the challenges they have faced in early recovery. They also get advice on how to cope with stressors without returning to substance use.


recovery support alumni group room

Third floor rec room – Sanford House at John Street for Men


Benefits of the Sanford Alumni Program:

  • Staying connected to the recovery community
  • Fosters accountability
  • Allows for smooth transition between treatment and daily life
  • Provides support, encouragement, and access to other recovery-related resources
  • Promotes development and maintenance of a recovery support network
  • Continues to offer opportunities for continuing-education through Outpatient classes


The Sanford Alumni Program’s core objectives include helping individuals stay connected, build community, provide and receive support, and reduce stigma. And last but certainly not least, recovery support alumni activities foster friendships and fun in recovery!




Rae Rabideau says, "I wanted to be in the social work field from the time I was fourteen. I loved that there were names for what I was feeling – that help was available." In her role as the Manager of Clinical Operations, Rae works as a liaison between the clinical department and other departments within the organization. She fosters teamwork to improve communication and increase efficiencies at Sanford. Rae also promotes inclusion of family members in the treatment process, oversees EMR compliance, reviews billing, participates in multidisciplinary staff meetings to ensure compliance issues are given priority, and works with Human Resources Department on personnel issues. She also spearheads the Alumni Program.