Third Recovery Night marks growth of campus club

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President Evelyn Navarro (far-left) and club founder Ryan Sansome (far-right) share their struggles on a five-student panel.

Brandon McCapes, Deputy News Editor

A panel of students discussed addiction, trauma and abortion at Students for Recovery’s third Recovery Night event in the Bertolini Student Center Sept. 27.

Dean of Student Affairs and Engagement Robert Ethington kicked off the night with a song followed by a speech in which he called Santa Rosa Junior College a “redemption factory.” “Redemption is not a solo gig. It takes everybody to pull people up from the bottom,” Ethington said.

SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong introduced Vice President of Student Health Ryan Sansome in a speech that praised the club’s mission and accomplishments.

“I’ve been inspired by Student 4 Recovery because, for most of us, including myself, addiction has touched my family,” Chong said. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you keep moving down that path to be the person—the human being—you want to be.”

The main event of the night was a five-student panel including club President of the Student Government Assembly Evelyn Navarro who gave an impassioned speech about her own history of overcoming personal trauma and the importance of being strong in the face of life’s difficulties.

“I ask you to find that event that almost broke you but you made it through,” Navarro said. “Say to yourself, ‘After that, you can do anything.’”

Following the panel, attendees were treated to free pizza provided by  Mountain Mike’s, while organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Interlink Self Help and Student Health Services offered pamphlets to inform students of available services.

The Students 4 Recovery club began in April 2016 with a similar event and now has ­­­about 70 members who help provide support for students recovering from addiction, mental illness and other issues. Sansome, who created the club, said it has since grown into a movement with chapters starting at Mendocino College and Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona.

“The social stigma attached to addiction and mental health was so strong that I feared nobody would show up to our events or meetings,” Sansome said. “But we forged on with the belief that SRJC not only needed S4R, but would grow to support us.”

Club member Stefania Ryan emphasized that the club is not just about recovering from addiction. “That idea of recovery has blossomed into more than just addiction,” Ryan said. “It’s actually become people who are recovering from issues in life. Everybody is recovering from something.”

Daniel Porter, 28, a member of the club at SRJC said the club was an asset to people struggling with addiction or mental illness in need of a community.

“Students 4 Recovery is probably one of the strongest support groups that I’ve encountered at any school,” Porter said.

The club meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays in Bertolini 4643.