Throughout SMART’s 25th anniversary year, culminating in our National Conference September 20 – 22 in Itasca, Illinois, we will honor volunteers representing many types of individual service.
When it came time to launch SMART Recovery’s new 24/7 chat in March 2019, a group of volunteers dedicated energy and talent toward making the launch a success. Alexander A. Cardé was one of those people. “Alex shared his time and his technological capabilities. He would be up late testing and offered some great ideas,” explains Michelle Elkins, SMART Recovery’s Technology Committee Chair. Cardé also serves as a coordinator for Smart Meeting Management (SMM) Calls, twice-weekly open discussions for facilitators, trainees, and hosts.
Going above and beyond comes naturally to Cardé. “I met Alex at the National Conference last year. He volunteered to take photographs of the event,” Elkins says. “He does these little extra things that make a big difference.”
Cardé is Regional Coordinator (RC) for the New Jersey region, and he facilitates several in-person meetings each week, in addition to moderating SMM Calls twice a week.
“I met Alex at the 2017 National Conference, and after having conversations with him told him that I’d love for him to be a Regional Coordinator one day,” says Christi Alicea, Assistant Director of SMART Recovery USA. “At the time, he didn’t have enough experience as a facilitator, which is one of our requirements to be an RC, but he was full of amazing ideas and insight about the organization and his region. I knew he was going to be an up-and-coming volunteer with us! He’s been such an asset to us on many levels.”
His energy is infectious, says Kevin Minnick, MS LMHC LCAC, Chair for Regional Coordinators & Facilitators, who also met Cardé at last year’s National Conference. “His ability to be so diplomatic and his investment in SMART made him an easy pick as someone I can rely on for working with RCs around the country. We plan all the meetings; we discuss problems and solutions. He has become my right-hand man over the last year.”
Cardé’s personality encourages others to gravitate toward him and rely on him for help and guidance. “He’s the kind of person who you might not know well but if your car was stuck on the freeway, he’d be the one to come to your rescue,” Elkins notes. His respect for the SMART Recovery program and how it changed his life can be felt in all of his volunteer endeavors. “It’s a program that worked for him, and he’s grateful and wants to give back,” Elkins says. “His passion for SMART is inspiring. It’s not just his talk but it’s his actions.”
That passion can be felt as Cardé facilitates meetings and moderates the 24/7 chat room. “In the chat room, it’s about open conversation and anonymity. You have to be able to guide the conversation, not own it. Alex is able to diffuse situations in the chat room,” Elkins says.
Cardé employs that same gentle guidance when facilitating face-to-face meetings. His talents – from guiding SMART Recovery participants toward successful tools in their recovery to offering invaluable IT insights for online tools – make a difference throughout the community. “His dedication to SMART, to seeing solutions and moving SMART along into the future are what make him most valuable,” Kinnick says. “He is a valued SMART volunteer and a good friend.”
Adds Elkins, “There are people who do a lot of work and who don’t get a lot of recognition. It’s nice that we can publicly acknowledge someone like Alex. He uses his gifts wherever they add value.”
Says Cardé, “Finding the tools in SMART has been a life-changer for me. My H.O.V. guides the lion share of my daily decisions, and to be able to work with Dr. Joe, the architect of that tool, is a great source of pride for me.
Unfortunately, there are so many who are not lucky enough to have found SMART and that’s why it’s a personal mission for me to expand awareness about what we are so fortunate to have. Helping participants work through issues similar to the ones I’ve wrestled with, showing them the benefits of volunteering with SMART, and being there for them if they are struggling to overcome difficulties – either as a meeting participant or a volunteer – are some of the ways I try to ‘pay it forward’.”
We’d like to thank Alex for jumping in and becoming such an impactful volunteer and leader in such a short period of time! We look forward to many more years of you on our team.
About the 25 in 25 Volunteer Recognition Program
The heart of SMART’s 25th anniversary celebration in 2019 is the story of an extraordinary community of volunteers who have built a worldwide organization devoted to supporting individuals recovering from addiction, as well as their family members and friends. These volunteers include addiction scientists and treatment professionals who designed a self-empowering 4-Point Program®and joined people with the experience of recovery and trained them to lead mutual support group meetings.
Together they have created and refined a peer-professional mutual-support group model that combines the best science for treating addiction with the lived experience of recovering from addiction – the world’s largest and only community of its kind with more than 3,000 group meetings held each week in 23 countries. Each year, participants in these groups help each other recover at more than 150,000 meetings, in-person and online, led by volunteers trained how to use the SMART program.
Throughout SMART’s 25th anniversary year, culminating in our National Conference September 20–22 in Itasca, Illinois, we will honor volunteers representing many types of individual service.
About SMART Recovery
Founded in 1994, SMART (Self-Management And Recovery Training) uses science-based techniques that have proven to be effective in helping people recover from addiction problems involving any substance or behavior, including such things as alcohol, drugs, gambling, over-eating, shopping, and internet use.
Participants use SMART to assume responsibility for their own recovery and become empowered using its 4-Point Program®: building motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life.
For more information, please visit www.smartrecovery.org.