Cultivating a community of service
Service work is an important element of our innovative experiential program.
At Voyage, service work is meant to connect our men with our community. Service work can be such a rewarding experience, and it teaches our men to to give back when most of us are used to taking.
In the past, we’ve helped our community by volunteering for venerable local charities, like Quantum House, an organization that provides a homelike environment for families of young children receiving hospital treatments. We’ve also gotten our hands dirty with activities like beach clean-up. Since so many of our fun adventures happen in the water, we encourage our guys to be responsible stewards of that fragile environment.
We recently visited Wild@Heart Wildlife Center, a predator sanctuary located in Okeechobee, FL. Wild@Heart is a not-for-profit animal sanctuary that relies on donations and volunteers to care for their facility and cover the costs of their animal caretakers and veterinarians.
After a morning spent helping out with landscape maintenance—clearing brush, trimming bamboo and weeding—our guys got to spend one-on-one time with some of the animals that call the sanctuary home.
Here one of our men cradles a bear cub. These guys look cuddly—and they are—but we were reminded that they’re still wild animals and that those animals living outside the sanctuary deserve our respect and distance.
Some people have a way with animals. What looks like fearlessness is actually more akin to compassion and respect. These bear cubs were silly, lovable and loving baby animals who just wanted to cuddle and play.
These juvenile wolves look, act and play like dogs, but they are all wolf. They roll and tumble with their litter-mates and give their human visitors sweet, puppy-like kisses.
Spending time with animals can be so cathartic—they don’t judge an man because of his addiction or his past. It’s vital for a young man in recovery to feel this kind of unconditional affection. It’s helps them remember they’re worthy and deserving of that, not just from animals but from the people in their lives too.
Want to feel humbled? Lock eyes with a tiger. Even with distance and many layers of fencing between us and them, there’s nothing as breath-taking as being in the presence of a tiger.
Taking our men into the community to do service work is a great way to drive home the lesson that one of the most important ways that we can help and heal ourselves is to give freely of ourselves. Being of service is so fulfilling—the men enjoy a sense of purpose and usefulness and a worthwhile cause is supported in the bargain.
It’s a well-known idea in recovery circles that service work helps folks in recovery stay sober. It fosters humility, connection, and feelings of self-worth; it also helps us to turn the focus away from ourselves and put it on someone or something outside of us. Service work is a component of our experiential program delivered in balance with structured therapeutic work to help our men process their experiences and understand their feelings.
How do you give back to your community through service work?
We find that it helps to motivate our guys to connect them with an activity or cause that makes sense for them and really engages their senses. We hope that in the future, as our guys return back to their regular lives they’ll explore opportunities for service in their community—for example with environmental clean-up or being a big-brother to a youngster in need.
If you’re interested in learning more about the service work component of our experiential program, or how our program in general helps young men get clean, call us at (561) 676-0165 or schedule a call with us.