Marvin: I’m Marvin.

Andrew: I’m Andrew.

Marvin: And this is the Balboa Horizons Podcast. Today I’m here with alumni coordinator Andrew Prochazka.  Andrew, let me ask you, what does the alumni program at Balboa Horizons consist of, and why do you think it’s so important?

Andrew: Well, it mainly consists of period check-ins via telephone or meetings. At times, people are still local, so they can come from wherever they live, sober living, meet with me on a one-on-one basis. The alumni meeting, it’s every single week, so everybody knows that that’s the home-base every Wednesday 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. We have a meeting specifically for alumni that have completed the program.

Marvin: I notice you talked about you meet one-on-one with the alumni that come in.

Andrew: Right.

Marvin: How important do you think those visits are to our alumni?

Andrew: Extremely important. It’s a level of accountability that they no longer have while they’re in treatment, but if it’s continued it kind of goes by the philosophy of, your ongoing support yields ongoing recovery. That’s really our goal, is to be an extension to all alumni, whether they’re here local, or out of state, is just for them to know that we’re still here for them.

Marvin: Gotcha.

Andrew: Whatever capacity that is. Whether it’s just a phone call every month, or help with discharge planning, getting back into school. We want them to know that we’re always here to help.

Marvin: And in your opinion, what makes an effective alumni program?

Andrew: Mainly consistency. Building rapport with these clients, and trust, is really important, or previous clients. As long as we’re consistent throughout the full continuum of care, we can be there for them if they fall, we can be there for them when they need help with the good things in their life. Like I said, whether it’s school, a new job, a lot of people that have been through here that are employed stay here.

Marvin: Gotcha. So you mentioned earlier also that we have a weekly alumni group here at 129 Cabrio in Costa Mesa every week.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marvin: Can you talk a little bit about those groups and how important they are? And kind of the topics that are discussed?

Andrew: Sure. We have a speaker, it consists of a 30 minute speaker, usually an alumni speaker with years of sobriety, so they’re up there to really be of service and show people that are newly out of the program that it can be done if they follow the program, follow the principles that this is what they can attain. They’re there to be of service whether it’s through sponsorship of just periodic phone calls like they follow up with me.

Marvin: Yeah. Okay. Andrew, let me ask you, in what way do you think Balboa Horizons Alumni Program stands out from other treatment centers?

Andrew: I believe it stands out because of the staff here. Most of the staff actually came through Balboa Horizons and they really established the alumni program. Coming into this position like I did, it was an easier transition than I thought it would be because of the staff. There was so much support, they already had a lot of things in place as far as a meeting, events, and the fellowship. It was really easy because everybody came together and they all had a lot of resources as far as for sponsorship for people that were leaving the program, for meetings that alumni can get out to, and even rides to those meetings. It was pretty seamless, they really fill in the gaps, the staff here. There would not be an alumni program if it wasn’t for the staff that are former clients here.

Andrew: Another way that I think Balboa Horizons differentiates itself from other programs too is the support I’ve gotten. Balboa has supported me in training, and gotten me out to a collaborative actually with TPAS, Treatment Professionals and Alumni Services. This was at the very beginning of … He sent me on this collaborative to Texas, as you had mentioned, and they really gave me a structure on what to do to really make this program effective. Laid out steps on what I can do to make an alumni program full again. Without that help, without the support from Balboa of sending me there, I don’t know where I would be in this whole puzzle, and I don’t know where the program would be in this whole puzzle.

Marvin: How important would you say that follow-up is with recent graduates of our program going into the alumni program?

Andrew: Follow-up is imperative. Like I had said earlier, consistency is extremely important with alumni. What I’ve been told is the first 48 hours is extremely difficult, extremely sensitive. And even in my experience, getting out of treatment, the transition from treatment to back home, sober living, back to the old environment or a new environment is very sensitive transition.

Marvin: Obviously it’s a crucial time in someone’s recovery, they have wavering thoughts perhaps. Perhaps not, but connecting with them on a personal level I’d imagine is huge.

Andrew: Right, so getting a call from somebody that’s from an environment that you’ve spent time, the past couple months in, is really important. Us touching base with people, just letting them know, “Hey, we’re still here,” while they most of the time feel alone. Moving on, it’s almost as if you move out of someplace and into another place, you leave that place behind. We want to make sure that we’re still there and that we make ourselves known that, “We’re still here for you, and we’ll do whatever we can to help you. You just have to meet us halfway.”

Marvin: And we do that through some events. What are some events that we have coming up? Is there a beach bash coming up this year?

Andrew: Right, yeah. We had a talent show, they put on a talent show every year. We have a beach bash coming up next month, so there’ll be food, games, surf, volleyball, overall just fellowship and fun. We want to make sure that as many people that have been and touched Balboa can all come together and reunite and give back to one another.

Marvin: Andrew, that’s amazing. If you could say one thing to someone who’s struggling right now. What would you say?

Andrew: Ask for help. That was really the hardest thing, and one of the things that I find, especially with alumni when they’re on the phone it’s really difficult to ask for help. Because we see them a lot of the times doing well through the program, getting out, I have check-ins with these people and they’re progressing in their lives. So if there is a setback, or if they’re not doing well mentally for whatever reason, I would suggest asking for help.

Marvin: That’s great advice. Andrew, thank you for your time today, thank you so much.

Andrew: Thank you.

Marvin: For all you out there listening to this, I’m Marvin.

Andrew: I’m Andrew.

Marvin: And that’s the Balboa Horizons Podcast. We’ll see you next time.