East Carolina University’s Collegiate Recovery Community (ECU Recovery) was established in 2015 to provide educational opportunities, personal development, and social enhancement to students in recovery from mind-altering substances and to the allies that support their journey to a better self. This organization found its niche after realizing that numerous issues needed to be addressed such as the lack of coordinated sober peer support; sober housing; maintaining sobriety in a college environment that encourages drinking; co-morbid emotional/mental health needs; the need for sober extra-curricular activities; service learning and volunteer opportunities.

With these interventions, ECU Recovery strives to contribute to recovering individuals’ academic success in college through programming efforts. These include the creation of a supportive environment, experiential activities and the opportunity to increase awareness around substance issues. Through peer education ECU Recovery responds to the need for a true recovery oriented systems of care model that embraces multiple pathways of recovery. ECU Collegiate Recovery allows ECU to create a supportive network of services to assist students along their developmental and educational journey.

The goal of ECU Recovery is to create a welcoming environment for all students of the university and to create a culture that supports recovery within a model of a recovery-oriented system of care; meeting each student where they currently are with empathy, compassion, and support. East Carolina University finds value in every student and supports each student on an individualized level based on his/her needs. ECU Recovery offers weekly check-ins and goal setting, on-campus counseling and support groups, off-campus referral services, dedicated meeting spaces, sober recreational activities, and service learning and volunteer opportunities – such as the ECU Purple Pantry.

ECU’s Purple Pantry is a collaborative effort between ECU Recovery and many entities of ECU’s Division of Student Affairs. Members and partners of ECU Recovery dedicate their time and energy to creating a sustainable resource on campus to combat food insecurity, an issue many don’t realize exists on college campuses. Due to the increase in awareness of the pantry, the Purple Pantry has increased its operating hours; Monday-Friday from 1pm-5pm. As a service initiative, the Purple Pantry is an important part of ECU Recovery’s aim to raise the profile of recovery efforts on our campus. The overarching goal is to end the stigma associated with food insecurity and substance use disorders among young people. According to recent studies concerning Greenville-Pitt County (North Carolina), 21.5% of individuals live in poverty and another 70% of people over the age of 18 are food insecure – two factors that lead to substance misuse and substance use disorders. Our Greenville-Pitt County partnerships have mutual interests in ending food insecurity on our campus and in our community and creating pathways to recovery.

Much of what has been accomplished would not be possible without the likes of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC and the Pitt County Coalition on Substance Abuse. Since opening late spring 2018, ECU Purple Pantry has been blessed with over 5,000 pounds of nonperishable goods and toiletries, provided over 350 meals to ECU students and donated nearly 300 pounds of surplus goods back to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Starting Fall 2019, the Purple Pantry, in partnership with Off-Campus Student Services and the School of Hospitality Leadership, is beginning to offer cooking classes for students to ensure a balanced meal and creative ways of using a variety of items found in the Purple Pantry.

Members and partners of ECU Recovery dedicate their time and energy to creating a sustainable resource on campus to combat food insecurity, an issue many don’t realize exists on college campuses. Upon interviewing one graduate student about why she donates her time and energy to working in the pantry shared that, “I chose to serve because food security plays a big role in student’s academic and social growth”. Dealing with food insecurity is known to disrupt normal thinking and behavior which is needed to excel in college. Tiger M., an undergraduate student states she enjoys serving in the pantry because, “Knowing I am able to help another student in a situation I was once in is encouraging.” In all, ECU Recovery has adopted the motto “Service enhances recovery.” This is a testament to our fourth pillar, Service, and the understanding that ‘we can only keep what we have by giving it away.’

ECU Recovery exists to help maintain recovery while enhancing their college experience along the way. ECU Recovery refers students to campus and community resources and helps with student transition to ECU. ECU Recovery is open to students from all walks of life. East Carolina University Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) is located in the Center for Counseling and Student Development in Umstead 137. To learn more about ECU’s Purple Pantry or the Collegiate Recovery Community contact Jarmichael Harris at ecucrc@ecu.edu or give us a call at 252-328-6661!

Jaime Johnson, ECU MSW Candidate ‘20
ECU Collegiate Recovery Community Intern