The History of Choices/The Centre' Alumni
Shirely letting someone know how things should be
In the kitchen at the Centre'
Alumni Photo Galleries
The Choices Alumni Group was re-established in 2006 by Shirley Lamarr, Director of the Choices Program in the San Mateo County Jail. After 14 years of devoting her life to teaching people in custody how to change their lives and live drug free, she recognized the need to have a support group on the outside. A group that would further instill the beliefs, practices and structure that they learned in Choices. Offering people a greater hope, that they will stay clean and sober. To learn how to live productive, drug free lives. To become a part of what breaks the cycles of involvements in gangs, jail and prison.
In 2006, Ms. Lamarr gathered a cadre of devoted minions whose lives she helped save. People that had gone on to achieve great personal and professional success. People who embodied the integrity of living a life of abstinence with purpose and meaning. Some came from Choices, some came from Delancey Street Foundation and some came believing in the spirit of the vision. All came to help. All came to carry out the mission to create a community of people who are committed to living a clean and sober life of integrity, and to teach others to do the same. They set out to spread the word, create awareness and to become mentors. Who under the guidance of Ms. Lamarr would set the structure that would build the foundation of a solid core of members who are committed to saving lives.
In 2006 the Choices Alumni Group met 3 times.
In the first meeting there were 10 people.
Most were graduates from Choices and Delancey Street.
The number of people grew by word of mouth each time the group met. Due to lack of space to do meetings, the Alumni was shut down.
In 2007 there was a demand from graduates of Choices and from others in recovery whose lives Ms. Lamarr touched, to restart a support group.
With the support of Choices, Dr. Richard Hayward and the core members, the group reconnected and had the first meetings in August of 2007.
There were 30 people at the first meeting.
From the beginning it was evident by all the phone calls we received that it was only a matter of time before the group grew.
Choices Alumni group why it is important to our Community
The CHOICES Alumni group is an important part of the re-entry process. The CHOICES program in the San Mateo County jail has proven itself to be a highly effective program that has a direct positive impact on not only reducing recidivism but teaching people how to be productive within their community.
It is only reasonable to conclude that a support group modeled after this highly regarded program will prove to be just as effective in helping to stay clean and sober once they have left any program.
Having an aftercare group where people can go and receive continuing support is crucial to maintaining sobriety. Especially, an aftercare group that follows the same model as the program where they learned how to be clean and sober.
Looking forward: we envision having a CHOICES center. A place where the meetings are held and people can come and receive help with housing, jobs, clothing, food and referrals to medical health care.
CHOICES Alumni Group Moving Forward in 2009
The CHOICES alumni group will establish itself as a viable evidence based aftercare model.
In 2009-2010 our objectives are: To secure support and funding for:
* Secure meeting spaces in two convenient locations in San Mateo County.
* To have a resource center where people re-entering the community can go and receive support with their recovery.
* Give referrals for housing, jobs, feed, medical and mental health services after 6 p.m.
* Create a 24 hour 7 days a week hotline.
* A paid staff member who serves as a liaison/Case manager and Administrative Aide; when county budget's permit.
* Have more alumni transitional living homes.
CHOICES ALUMNI GROUP 2009
As if January 2008 the CHOICES alumni group has over 125 active participating members and growing.
As of January 2008, we have additional 75-100 honorary members who are currently incarcerated and have pledged to come to meetings upon their release.
30% of our members have graduated from programs such as: Choices, Delancey Street, Project 90, Our Common Ground (formerly: Day Top), Jericho Project, Hope House, Bridges.
70% of our members are currently in programs. They come from Project 90, Our Common Ground (formerly: Day Top), Jericho Project, Hope House, Bridges.