Students in Recovery Pitch in to Clean Stadium

At 8 a.m. Sunday, when many Texas fans were no doubt sleeping off their hangovers after Saturday’s loss in a night game, some remarkable students were cleaning up the mess left behind.

Longhorns involved with the Center for Students in Recovery—which supports those recovering from addictions—volunteer to pick up trash in the stadium after home games. Sunday marked their last one of the season.

It’s by no means an atypical act of service by members of the growing group—volunteering is one of their main activities. For the cleanups, they ask the UT Police Department to put the money that it would have spent hiring more workers toward Orange Santa, which gives holiday gifts to kids in need.

“We’re demonstrating to the UT community our gratitude for the way they’ve welcomed us and supported us and for giving us a foundation to build our recovery and strengthen our community,” program coordinator Ivana Grahovac says.

Cleaning up, Grahovac says, is especially helpful to the recovery process. Trash-gathering takes humility, after all, and “humbling yourself is a key element of recovery,” she says.

The center, founded in 2004, is growing ever more successful in its goal of creating a positive community of students living a clean and sober college experience.

It recently built a Sustainers Council of supporters, each of whom contributes $10,000 a year for five years. Business school namesake Red McCombs, regents Steve Hicks and Bobby Stillwell, and Paul Mitchell line creators John Paul and Eloise Dejoria are among the council’s members.

The center is also hiring a fundraiser to help it build an endowment of between $2.2 and $3 million.

And next summer, it will move from a crowded 1,000 square feet in the basement of the School of Social Work to a more spacious 3,000 square feet in Bellmont Hall.

UT is among fewer than two dozen major universities in the country with robust recovery and support organizations for students. A national leader, it is now helping groups at Montana State, Clemson, George Washington, and the University of Houston get started, too.

A university setting can really test students who have faced addictions. “Stress, performance, exams, finals, frat houses, keg parties, beer pong—it’s a recipe for relapse,” Grahovac says. “But we’re trying to build a community committed to living the college experience clean and sober.”

Photos by Jeff Heimsath


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