Destination Hope Blog » Podcast #1 – The Very First

Podcast #1 – The Very First

Jim Magner:

Good afternoon, everybody out there. My name is Jim Magner here with my good friend John Reeck.

This is Destination Hope’s first ever podcast.

So, today we want to talk to the alumni about a couple things. Being that this is the first time we’re doing this; John and I were talking, and we decided that we wanted to talk about the

importance of alumni. And so, I’m going to let John talk a little bit about that. We’ll go from there.

John Reeck:

First. I want to talk about what recovery can do, because here we got Red Sox/Patriots fan from Boston.  And a New York guy from Queens – Giants/Yankees. Typically, we don’t get along. I mean, we literally hate each other. Jim has been a trusted, dear friend for over a decade and I’m just grateful to be at this place with him.

Jim Magner:

It’s funny too. Because in that decade, Boston has dominated the sports landscape. So, New Yorkers have been taking the back seat to us for quite some time.

John Reeck:

All I know is there was a Super Bowl that was going on and you were ready to kill me. It’s the one time I had them. Then of course they came back and won, but during that game.

Jim Magner:

There were some interesting ones.

John Reeck

You know, there’s one thing you can never take from us. It is.

Jim Magner:

Yeah. I know

John Reeck

Super Bowl win against the Patriots… New York Giants

Jim Magner:

Calm down.

John Reeck

So, me and Jim were talking about what should we discuss? What’s interesting? And I thought about it. From our beginnings and working in the industry and our own personal stories and how important alumni became. I know for me; I started as a tech and housing director and clinician, and I worked in the residential level of care for about five years. And that was a very taxing population, you know, because when we first come into treatment we are not skipping and jumping for joy; we’re sick. We’re dealing with all the baggage; you know dealing with all the shame and anger. I’m blessed to have the skillset to connect with people. I’ve always had a love for people and add to that people like me that are suffering and just something that came naturally to me. But then, of course it can get “burnt-out” you want to call it burnt out. It’s exhausting for your soul.

So, I started getting in with alumni and I felt like for staff, working with alumni just charges your batteries and I was like, this is it. This is the battery charger.

Jim Magner:

I’ve known you for over a decade and I can remember when you started that first alumni program, way back in the TRP days. I’m a product of treatment; I went to treatment three times back in the day. I’ve celebrated 13 years sober back in December of 2019.

When it came to the alumni programs, I never had any contact with any of my other programs. The last program I was in, I can remember there was a tech that would call and check up on us. I’m still, to this day, waiting for the next event – anyone to call and see how I’m doing.

I don’t even know if that program’s still around. But I can remember when the TRP program started and you jumped on board and started that program. Now all of a sudden we had clients getting together and doing things and socializing. It became almost like… I was a college kid that was in a fraternity and played sports and it felt like there was that camaraderie and a bunch of us just getting together and doing anything.

Fellowshipping, having fun, laughing. A young guy getting to see some girls that were young and single and sober, having fun, doing some things. That was what it was all about for me. The meetings – you can only do so much. The meetings I always took seriously.

I went there with my sponsor or my sponsorship family. We were there for the hour – that was where the work was. We went in there and took it seriously, but the other 23 hours of the day 7 days a week – what are we doing?

John Reeck

Practicing these principles and all our Affairs? What’s that mean?

Jim Magner:

So, having all those people in the same treatment center…

John Reeck:

Love and care that they built together. They have a beginning of that because they went through a very challenging time and learned a lot together. And you know, that’s what happens we become so tight-knit when we’re in treatment. We become friends.

Jim Magner:

I’m a Notre Dame fan. It doesn’t matter what… if you’re a Notre Dame fan; if you’re in Notre Dame alum, you wear that Notre Dame shirt. It doesn’t matter if you’re 70 years old or 17 years old. There’s a Brotherhood and we’re in this together.

And so, the alumni is similar to that in the sense that you didn’t have to go to treatment together.

Destination Hope has been around for over thirteen years. So, client number one and client number 2550, whatever – they have that connection. Hey, you went to Destination Hope.

I had the best clinician when I was there. They helped me so much and they are big reason why I’m still clean and sober today.

We just had an all-staff meeting last month. We have staff that have been here for over a decade. So, there is an opportunity for some of those older alumni that were in the first wave of clients that have come through here. There’s an opportunity that one of the staff members may still be here – that you may recognize and it’s all about plugging back in and getting involved to see. But for me, I can remember – back when you started that alumni program shortly before that, I was working there as well and we had started a staff softball team.

John Reeck:

Yeah, I got pictures dude. We did that for years

Jim Magner:

The original softball team was from 2007 and we played out at Brian Piccolo Park on Sunday mornings. And the owner of the company was one of the players on the team and we were awesome. I mean we had a team.

We went undefeated in the regular season. The weekend of the championship was also the spiritual retreat down in the Keys. Half the team went to the spiritual retreat and I can remember, we showed up in an RV holed up in the outfield of the game, 5 minutes before the first pitch. None of us had slept. Needless to say, we lost the game by one run. Our shortstop made 9 errors.

It was quite an interesting day, but we were playing other treatment centers and that’s something that we still do.

I know that Destination Hope has a softball team. Alot of the staff were involved in it.

John Reeck:

Correct.

Jim Magner:

We play other treatment centers, and I’ve done that for the last decade.

John Reeck:

It’s a lot of fun man

Jim Magner:

The camaraderie of getting everyone together

John Reeck:

And we’re always like the Bad News Bears,

Jim Magner:

For me it’s always been about I believe that I work at the best treatment center in South Florida. I believe our clients are the best. I believe that we have the best rate of sobriety. People come through here and they stay sober.

John Reeck:

We do things truly, that no other place does and I’m really proud of that. Could be a whole other podcast.

Jim Magner:

I love going out and competing on the softball field against the other treatment centers.

I know that we’re in the process right now – you’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to bring the alumni program back up to the levels that you’ve had it at other facilities.

John Reeck:

We did a reboot maybe about six or seven months ago. It takes work.

Jim Magner:

It takes work, it takes help. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach, you know. It’s not just you on Facebook hoping that people will click like and comment and get things going.

John Reeck:

Calling phone numbers that add to have no clue who I am. I’m a stranger

Jim Magner:

Attention all Destination Hope alumni. We need your help!

John Reeck:

I’ll say this, this is your program. I am honored and grateful to be a small part of it. But without your role in it; plugging in and participating, it’s a word – alumni, right.

Jim Magner:

It shows up at the meetings that shows up on the social media presence. I haven’t looked…I can pull it up, but I don’t need to pull it up.

I would guess right now. I know we have over 10,000 alumni in 13 years. I know that right now our Facebook alumni page, which is a private page that is only privy to Destination Hope alumni.

I don’t think we’re at 200 yet.

John Reeck:

I started that page when I rebooted. There’s so many that are not getting it and I meet them as I go along and I add them when I do get in touch and start to bond with an older alumni – absolutely but there’s so many that I don’t know where they are. I don’t know who they are.

Jim Magner:

We have a chart but who knows them.

John Reeck:

Hey, we’ve been doing this, you know, we get together every week. We have a speaker meeting and we have dinner together; we do quarterly events. We just had an awesome kickball tournament with up with all kinds of other ancillary stuff going on and we showed up and it was raining and we had…

Jim Magner:

I just want to put out their own record to I was at that event and that alumni staff kickball game. I still feel…

I’m not going to say the alumni cheated. I just feel that looking back on that game, there was some calls your close friend was the referee.

John Reeck:

He the most fair, honest guy I know – he’s up at the top

Jim Magner:

We lost by one run and the ref just happened to be an alumni…

John Reeck:

I’m going to tell you since the outbreak and what’s going on in the in the country in the world… We started…last week was the launch of our virtual meeting through Zoom and I got to tell you it was so cool. It was weird and cool.

But the cool thing about it is you guys showed up for it and I would love more this week. So, the one thing they were requesting is can we have a meeting geared towards mental health? Absolutely we can. Let’s get it in motion.

Jim Magner:

Ask for it and we’ll make it happen with

John and I are sitting here. We’re limited on our ideas. We’re 13 years sober, we’re parents, we’re in our 40s.

John Reeck:

We’re also very big on team ideas. Coming together as a team. And I know you attend a huddle meeting here every week. It’s the team of leadership coming together to help each other.

Jim Magner:

We all get together and we discuss things Destination Hope. What’s going good; what’s going bad. And it’s an honest meeting. So, it’s not all about just patting each other on the back and saying, “hey John you’re doing a great job.” We’re discussing…I’m one of those people…I want constructive criticism. I don’t need people to tell me I’m great all the time. I like to know where people see that I’m struggling, so I can clean that up and be better.

John Reeck:

It was an idea that came up – having a kind of a leadership within the alumni and rotate those leadership positions. I don’t feel we’re at a point yet where we have enough steady, strong alumni showing up to take on those commitments.

Now, one thing we did also do before this happened, is the alumni wanted to start their own meeting. So, we did it. The week before quarantine we had the launch of our AA meeting and it was awesome. We had Soup to nuts…everything almost perfection and it was a great topic, great discussion. So, we have all these wonderful options.

All right, so we can’t come live to that meeting until further notice…can we continue that AA meeting – they called it the round table meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. When we did our first business meeting that was one topic – we have to name the group.

Jim Magner:

Like we need to name this podcast.

We need your help in a lot of areas. This only works if you guys show up. Tell us what you want, tell us what you need. We’re here to help you. Eventually we want this to be a live podcast. It will be cool.

Imagine having some of the ex-clients calling in and talking, depending on the topic. If you guys have topics you want to talk about, discuss; struggles; we’re here for you. That’s what you need to know and that’s the purpose of the alumni program. I got taught very early in recovery…pick up the phone before you pick up – the 10,000-pound phone. I can’t think of how many different times where I just didn’t want to but thank God I did. Thank God I just picked up the phone. It wasn’t always my sponsor. My sponsor told me from day one: “Listen, I have a job, I have a wife. I have things going on in my life. I have my own recovery to worry about. I’m not always going to answer your call. If I don’t answer leave a message. If it’s really serious you can text me, but in the meantime, what is Plan B, what is plan C?

There has to be a list of people that you can reach out to. We are those people. We’re always going to be here on that list. If you allow us to be. How many of your peers are on that list? Who do you call when you’re struggling?

John Reeck:

Well, I want to say this and I’m so proud of you guys because starting with maybe three or four people that came to the first meeting and very little direction. I would say here in South Florida, we have a steady up to 50 people that show up, but it’s not every week. So, I have 20 show up one week. We’ll have 15 different people show up the following week. Sometime four or five people in the room and I understand that, you know, it’s going to ebb and flow. But we do have our hub for communication. I would love to see you guys utilize that more. I almost feel like sometimes all I do is post and yeah, they probably hate me, whatever, it is what it is.

Sometimes out-of-sight out-of-mind, but the other thing is we have so many out of state alumni and they have really been begging. how can we be more involved? We launched – we had two speakers on Facebook live, which was really cool.

So, people from all over the nation chiming in with their messaging during those meetings.

And now we have this this Zoom, which I feel we’re just going to keep that ongoing, especially if we get a good group that wants to do that every week. Have an alumni Zoom meeting and have an alumni live meeting. I’m excited to start planning for our next event that’s going to be as soon as…that’s going to be the celebration when this thing gets lifted. We’re going to have another alumni event.

I already know what it is. It’s going to be freaking awesome. Everybody’s going to love it going to be a lot of fun. Little more classy than what we’ve done so far.

Jim Magner:

I’m curious too…What are you doing to stay sane? Maybe we’ll save that for another day. We can have a whole podcast about that.

John Reeck:

I was going to say. There’s so many of you that have reached out or communicated on what’s going on. I’m going to put out a challenge for the Facebook live groups – just to keep us entertained; so, I can get that out today.

I mark it as an announcement. What you can do to help keep momentum going and keep morale up in that group. Put some funny comments, tag friends, keep it active, share it, tag it pass it along.

Jim Magner:

John and I are starting this podcast, but we may have some budding radio hosts in the alumni that are local that maybe give us some pointers. You may even want to come in and be a part of the production side of it. Maybe we have a budding host out there that’s going to be way more entertaining than you and I.

We’ve got the ability to add two more microphones here at any point and there’s always room to add more.

John Reeck:

We would love to have live guests really soon. Have live guests come in for whatever the topic is or just get creative and it’ll be a lot of fun.

I don’t want to hold the podcast hostage and get we got the information out that we need. Let us know what you think how this went, critique it.

Jim Magner:

Tell us what was good, what was bad. Hopefully people will listen all the way through.

Tell us what you; think tell us what you want. Please pass it along.

John Reeck:

Topics. What’s important? What do you guys want the show on?

Jim Magner:

Think about when you were in treatment. Look at the list on our alumni page. If you’re friends with people that went through here that aren’t on the page get them engaged. Let’s all connect.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Take care.