ORCA – Ocean Recovery Community Alliance

I’m on a surfboard (odd because I’ve never sat on a surfboard) and I realize a huge wave just crashed on shore. I sit in the aftermath; the still, cold, dark water no threat. I’m overcome with deep sadness; the ocean’s surface covered with floating trash – plastics in every shape, color and size. Items bump against my knees.

Behind me, I sense motion, a powerful presence plows through the sea toward me – a killer whale. Orca. The queen of the ocean; she commands the plastic be removed.

The scene shifts south to warm, tropical waters. Many others straddle their surfboards with me, a feeling of purpose unites us.

The vision ends.

However, words remain. ORCA equals Ocean Recovery Community Alliance. I know what I’m supposed to do. I feverishly jot down some thoughts.

  • ORCA can be said two ways – Ocean (pause) Recovery Community Alliance or Ocean Recovery (pause) Community Alliance. The first iteration suggests the recovery community aligns to clean up our oceans. The second brings in a much larger audience.
  • The ORCA concept solves a dilemma I’ve wrestled with for years; uniting the recovery community with the entire community; an opportunity to visibly practice recovery service. Let the world experience recovery community values.
  • Bill White wondered at the 2019 MPRC: THE National Recovery Conference if the recovery community could save our society. Perhaps this might serve as one vehicle.
  • Personal recovery aligns with ocean recovery. Save ourselves, save the planet.
  • Ocean/beach cleanup is apolitical. Imagine someone berating us…“Hey! Look at those stupid, dirty, disgusting addicts cleaning up our beaches! Who the hell do they think they are? We’ve got to stop them.” Not going to happen.Contemplate the Ocean Recovery Community Alliance serving communities, serving the environment and the potential to shift public perception.  Cool, right?

So what do I do with this vision? I have experience with visions.

I talked with trusted friends. I ran it by the CCAR staff; all enthusiastic. I presented the idea to the CCAR Board. They caught the vision too. With their encouragement and permission (and with no funding), we posted for an ORCA Coordinator position. Through a virtual interview process due to COVID, one candidate clearly surfaced. We hired Kevin Carmignani, a young, enthusiastic person in recovery, recovery coach and surfer mentored by our friends at Adventure Recovery. Kevin had recently moved from the mountains to the beach and was already involved in beach cleanups. Merely a coincidence? We think not.

What have we done so far?

Kevin designed an ORCA logo. We purchased equipment for our volunteers from Connecticut’s Clean Earth Project. We gathered appropriate COVID19 Personal Protection Equipment

On July 25th, 2020 we softly launched our first ORCA cleanup where 17 volunteers pulled 50 pounds of trash from the Mystic River.

On August 1st, we partnered with Clean Earth Project and collected 600 pounds of trash at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. ORCA T-shirts were handed out for the first time.

What does ORCA need?

  1. An ORCA van to transport all the cleanup gear. Kevin’s little Subaru doesn’t quite cut it. We see it fully wrapped in the ORCA logo along with space for the donor as well. Could you do this for us?
  2. Partners! Join the Ocean Recovery Community Alliance.
  3. Volunteers! Help us clean up.
  4. Donations.
  5. ORCA established a foothold in social media –  TwitterInstagram and Facebook.  Follow us.  Like us.

I’m energized at the enthusiasm from our first events; the “weigh-ins” a highlight. I’m impressed with the commitment and passion from many CCAR team members – Tom, Amy, Michael, Carlos, Rita, Guy come to mind.

Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

For more information contact ORCA@ccar.us.

Man on top of a mountain holding two swordsIn 2015, I finished a thruhike of the entire Appalachian Trail, a trek of 2,189.2 miles. It took 189 days and 6 pairs of boots.  During that sacred time, my purpose in life became more precisely defined.  I am, simply, to coach recovery.  Recovery saved me from an early demise and brought purpose to my tattered life.  I have learned that I’m a coach to my very core. I am blessed to put the two together. I started work at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in January 1999.  I became the Executive Director of this recovery community organization in 2004.  I have trained the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© dozens of times and have a hand in modifying, improving and adapting various recovery coach curricula.  I’m old enough now to start considering my legacy. This is one way for me to share lessons learned in my recovery, in my role as Executive Director and a trainer. When I engage with others, I present the same messages repeatedly.  It’s time to write them down. 

Phil “Right Click” Valentine
Recovery established 12.28.87

2 thoughts on “ORCA – Ocean Recovery Community Alliance”

  1. This is such a solid example of tangible recovery in action. Unity, responsibility, willingness, all snuggled up nicely in apolitical fashion. Great work.

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