We can help. Call us at (336) 621-3381

Gateway Newsletter Summer 2023

To download the Gateway in PDF format, click here.  



Meet Ben Gaines, 2023 Conference Voice

The Fellowship Hall Council is a dedicated group of alumni and members of our recovery community who organize our annual Conference – a homecoming for many of our former guests and friends to celebrate drug and alcohol recovery, gain inspiration, and spend some quality time together. These outstanding volunteers manage Conference from start to finish. The Voice, who is elected each year from Council, works with the speaker committee to identify and secure speakers. We interviewed this year’s voice, Ben Gaines, to find out what’s in store this August.

What’s most exciting about this year’s conference?
“It just so happened that while I was a guest at Fellowship Hall, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Conference with all the great people I was experiencing treatment with. I’m super excited that this year, Fellowship Hall’s guests will be able to join us. It meant a lot to me and my new drug and alcohol recovery to see people making drug and alcohol recovery work. It was motivating to see all the lives being lived – the lives that newcomers think are unattainable. I hold a quote from the Big Book near, ‘We alcoholics have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.’ At conference, we see the living proof of that – because we do recover, despite the negative voice that likes to tell us otherwise. It is always good to hear people who are laughing, happy… and recovered.”

What’s the best part of serving as the Voice for Conference?
“It has truly been an honor, one of the biggest ones of my life! The best part has been working with my committee to identify and select this year’s speakers, which I think has an incredible impact on those who attend. It has been a tremendous boost to have some influence on who we hear from this year.”
Would you recommend alumni serve on Council?
“Absolutely! We need volunteers to help us put the conference together and it’s inspiring to see how things work behind the scenes. And, I’m excited about Fellowship Hall’s new Alumni Coordinator – Natalie Ochs – as I think Council will have a lot more opportunities to help with alumni events in the future. Volunteering is an opportunity to give back and help others make recovery real.”

What’s your story?
“I’m from Siler City, NC and I found Fellowship Hall in 2006 when I was 27 years old. I didn’t get it right the first time, but the gift of sobriety has been my focus since I saw the light. It took time to find clarity. God gives us responsibilities when we’re ready! My dedication to my sobriety has propelled me in my personal life. I’m very involved in AA and Fellowship Hall plays an important role, too. I built my company, United Properties, from the ground up – so my work is another big part of my life along with my family. I just picked up 7 years and I still attend between 10-14 meetings per week. I try to never say ‘no’ to the gift of helping someone in AA. I’m a Big Book guy! I read it every day and carry around my mini Big Book, which was so tattered and torn that I recently had it rebound. At each AA meeting, I take out my ‘mini’ and read the Big Book.”

What advice do you have for people new to drug and alcohol recovery?
“Check out page 124 of the Big Book and remember that our dark path is our greatest asset. My sponsee asked me recently how do I convince myself that I’m not already too far gone to do better? Remember that things DO get better and the things we’ve done can be used to help someone. That can be a bright spot for someone really struggling.”

Message from Mike Yow

Summer is upon us! It is time to make plans for Conference (August 11-13) and the 22nd Annual E. Raymond Alexander Golf Tournament (August 11), both at Bryan Park. We are excited to be moving Conference and bring these two great events together, in a place close to the Hall!

I hope you have had a chance to interact with our new Guest and Alumni Services Coordinator, Natalie Ochs. Natalie has brought a huge amount of energy to her position, and we are very pleased and excited to have her with us! She has had marked success with several alumni events already and we anticipate some real growth in this area. I want to encourage you to contact Natalie with ideas you may have for alumni events. I also hope you will respond with a “YES” to any RSVPs you may get from her about attending future events.

You may have heard that I am retiring. I hope you can join me for a retirement reception on June 9, from 2-4pm in the Alumni Outpatient Center on campus. My last official day will be June 15, 2023. I have had the good fortune to build a 30-year career at Fellowship Hall, serving in various capacities with the last seven years as the President/CEO. I started here on May 1, 1993, before my daughter was even born; she will be 30 in July, which makes my back hurt!

There has been a lot of evolution at The Hall over the last 30 years. We have maintained a steadfast focus on our mission and our philosophy of what treatment and drug and alcohol recovery are. I believe that focus will, and must, persist. Our commitment to being a leader in the field of substance use disorder treatment must light the way as the healthcare landscape continues to rapidly change. COVID made a huge impact on the healthcare system and workforce that no one anticipated. Payer systems are shifting. There is tough sledding ahead. But the necessary evolution of Fellowship Hall, balanced by our commitment to our treatment philosophy, will secure our place in the future as a beacon for those suffering with addiction disease and their families.

This staff has made an unparalleled commitment, showing up every day to carry our mission forward. It has been an honor to serve them. I cannot really put into words the amount of gratitude I have for the opportunity to be a part of The Hall. The “Why” of Fellowship Hall is the driving force of this place, and I want to say thank you to all of you who entrusted us, me, to help show you a new way to live, or maybe at times, to cry with you when this damn disease did what it does. It’s still one day at a time!

In loving service,
Mike Yow, President & CEO

Introducing Natalie Ochs, Guest & Alumni Services Coordinator

We are excited to announce that Natalie Ochs has joined our staff as the new Guest & Alumni Services Coordinator! Natalie joined our staff in January 2023 to head up our Continuing Care Program and build our alumni relations into a robust, active, alumni community. Natalie is no stranger to Fellowship Hall, attending our Intensive Outpatient Program in 2019. A native of Georgia, Natalie found her way into the heart of our Greensboro drug and alcohol recovery community and has been making friends ever since.
Natalie works hard to meet our guests while in treatment and keeps them connected through follow-up phone calls for one year post discharge. Be sure to check your inbox and the Alumni section of our website for information and news on upcoming alumni events!

Be a Fellowship Hall Volunteer!

Are you looking for opportunities to help someone in their drug and alcohol recovery? We can get you connected. We’re looking for volunteers to help us in a variety of ways. If an offering below appeals to you, contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Wayne Smith at 336.621.3381 or by email at waynes@fellowshiphall.com.

DRIVERS… we’re looking for drivers to help our guests in treatment get to appointments, as needed. Drivers are required to have one year of sobriety and a clean driving record.

5TH STEPS… we’re looking for folks to participate in 5th steps with our guests in treatment. If you have one year of sobriety and have completed your 4th and 5th step with a sponsor, you’re exactly who we’re looking for!



Are you looking for a great way to spend your Sunday morning? Join us for Sunday Panel at Fellowship Hall, each Sunday at 10am in our main building lecture room. Sunday panel is open to individuals who are active in AA or NA and have 60 days of sobriety (30 days after discharge). Panel is open to members of the drug and alcohol recovery community only; no family members are permitted.



Alumni 101


Are you new to drug and alcohol recovery (discharged from Fellowship Hall within the last year) and looking for ways to stay connected beyond your local AA or NA meetings? Fellowship Hall can help! Beginning June 2023, we’ll be offering a monthly opportunity to join together with other new alumni, from across the state and beyond, on the 2nd Monday of each month from 6-7pm.

Monthly sessions will be facilitated by our Alumni Coordinator, Natalie O, and cover a wide variety of questions … from how to find a sponsor and why do meetings matter to whether or not service work is something to help sustain your drug and alcohol recovery. Here’s a list of dates and topics for the next few months.

To join, simply scan the QR code (left) or visit the Alumni section of our website at FellowshipHall.com.

2023 Dates & Topics:
6/12: What does willingness look like?
7/10: How can I get the most out of sponsorship? 8/14: How can I build a network?
9/11: Why do meetings matter?
10/9: Do I have to work the 12 steps?
11/13: Can the Serenity Prayer help me?
12/11: How can service work help me?

6:00-6:05pm Welcome
6:05-6:20pm Open discussion on where you are right now
6:20-6:35pm Topic presentation from Alumni or Guest
6:35-6:50pm Open discussion including experience, strength, and hope about the topic
6:50-7:00pm Gratitude, Inspiration, & Wrap-Up





Avoiding Complacency

We are taught in drug and alcohol recovery that it is dangerous to believe what we did yesterday will be enough to keep us sober tomorrow. Recovered alcoholics and addicts throughout history have demonstrated that the foundation of long-term sobriety is living purposefully One Day at a Time. Yet, complacency creeps in with stale routines, old ideas, failed actions, forgotten promises, dangerous contentment, and a loss of desperation. Oldtimers have referred to this deception as our built in “forgetters!” When achievements and a life of ease seem to come without much difficulty, the very gift of our sobriety can be taken for granted.

GOOD NEWS! There is a SOLUTION. Before the bedevilments on AA page 52 begin to emerge again in our lives and relationships, we must renew a decision to put “work” back into our drug and alcohol recovery program. A decision followed by ACTION. Below is a checklist of 25 Tools presented by Angela McClung at a recent workshop session entitled “How to Avoid Complacency.” Remember to fan the flames of your drug and alcohol recovery as a fire left untended will go out!

1. Start every day from scratch. New routines. Open mind. Open heart.
2. Surround yourself with friends that hold you accountable. Reengage with the “WE.”
3. Focus on process, not outcomes.
4. Seek out drug and alcohol recovery tools in the literature. These tools can be used for all negative emotions and character defects (Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Fear, Jealousy); for example, AA pages 66-67: “This was our course. We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person was offended we said to ourselves, ‘this is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’”
5. Daily readings and prayer first in the day.
6. Pray on knees morning and night.
7. Working the steps in order! Ongoing process! Not “one and done.”
8. Recommit to regularly CALLING Your SPONSOR!
9. Reach out to others! Especially, someone that you don’t always reach out to or a newcomer.
10. SLOGANS! Use them in day-to-day life and pass them onto others.
11. PAUSE! AA page 87: “pause when agitated or doubtful, ask for the right thought or action”
12. CHANGE up meetings! Take notes in meetings.
13. Chair a meeting for a month.
14. Share in meetings.
15. Sit in different locations (we tend to be creatures of habit…sometimes just sitting in a different place in the room gives us fresh perspective).
16. Do 90 meetings in 90 days: Annually or anytime a major change occurs …move, relationship, etc.
17. Ask for a meeting list and numbers: Especially, once in drug and alcohol recovery longer (we tend to stop adding numbers to our phones).
18. Get a new Big Book, 12/12, or NA textbook to use in meetings. Don’t rely on old notes or highlights!
19. Read BB with highlighters (Doctor’s Opinion – 164 pages…Pink for promises, Blue for prayers, Yellow for instructions, Orange for caution).
20. Make a service commitment of any kind.
21. VISIT out of town meetings on vacation!
22. Focus on Unity/Service/Recovery (the 3 sides of the triangle). What am I doing for each?
23. Seek ways to be healthy – physically, mentally, and spiritually! (3-fold disease-3-fold recovery).
24. Listen to drug and alcohol recovery speakers. You can find them at recoveryaudio.org.
25. Explore drug and alcohol recovery apps and online resources at recoveryreadings.com.


sober summer vacation strategies

Q & A with Kayla Fenty, FH Primary Counselor

Alcoholics and addicts in drug and alcohol recovery are like most people who look forward to nostalgic summer vacations with family and friends; however, many of us (especially early on) can feel underlying layers of doubts, fears, and anxieties. The first sober vacation for many people in drug and alcohol recovery is potentially a brand-new experience. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the sober days of summer vacation.

Is it OK to travel and stay with family & friends who drink or use?
This is typically not a good idea…especially for anyone just beginning a life in sobriety. Many family situations can be stressful and have the potential to be triggering. The presence of alcohol and substances adds even more unpredictability. Having easy access to alcohol or substances may bring out old thoughts and coping behaviors. It is best to limit vacation time with family & friends to circumstances where alcohol and substances are not prevalent.

Should I avoid places where I have vacationed in the past while drinking and using?
Visiting places where we have been drinking and using can be dangerous because it opens the door to remembering mental associations of past events (positive & negative) that we may not be prepared to work through in a healthy way yet. It may be nearly impossible for someone in early drug and alcohol recovery to have a realistic viewpoint on past events. A strong foundation of drug and alcohol recovery must be in place before we can handle some environments and experiences safely. Treatment is a reset button, not a cure.

What are some tips to stay sober in an airport?
Planning and preparation for “sober down times” are the first steps to traveling through airports without picking up a drink. Plan for boredom and layovers with books, recovery contacts available, journals for writing, craft supplies, and special snacks & drinks. People in drug and alcohol recovery everywhere are also dedicated to respond to the PA call, “Paging friends of Bill W. at Gate #—!” This is a reminder that alcoholics and addicts in drug and alcohol recovery are never alone. WE recover TOGETHER!

Are there online resources and apps to help me while traveling?
Yes. There are many resources for speakers and drug and alcohol recovery videos available every day on YouTube. Recovery apps such as: Everything AA, My Spiritual Toolbox, 12 Step Sober Meditations, AA & NA Meeting Guides, and Sober Time.

What boundaries do I need to set before a family trip where people will be drinking around me?
Healthy boundaries are necessary and very specific to individuals. Setting boundaries to protect serenity and sobriety is often an area of weakness for alcoholics, addicts, and their loved ones. Whatever the agreed upon boundary, the most important part is the follow through. Problem behaviors and subsequent actions must stay firm to be effective.

How can I say “No” to a drink politely?
“No, thank you.”

Do I have to explain to people that I don’t drink and why?
No. No is a complete sentence. You can get more specific if you are comfortable. For example, you could say, “No. I’m allergic to alcohol.” If the offer is repeated, you could say, “No. Please don’t ask again.” Giving different reasons like a headache, mood, or random excuse simply leaves the door open. A firm “No” will normally close the door completely.

What can I drink instead of alcohol? Is it OK to order “virgin” drinks?
The easiest alternatives to grab are sodas, juice, water, coffee, and seltzers. Ordering a “virgin” mocktail is rarely a good idea. These types of drinks are reminders of past experiences where drinking was fun or romanticized. They can often lead to frustration because they lack the effect alcoholics and addicts seek to change the way they feel. It is best to stay away from “virgin” drinks.

What do I do if I get lonely, bored, tired, or start craving?
First, go to a meeting ASAP! This includes immediately changing your physical situation and acting “Now!” Cravings normally pass in 5-8 minutes if we can find ways to distract or rest our train of thought. Books, puzzles, painting, cooking, and helping other people are also very effective strategies.

Are meetings important when traveling?
YES! Time a MILLION! Meetings are important because they help to maintain connections to drug and alcohol recovery. They can also be lots of fun and very adventurous while traveling somewhere new. Online meetings are only recommended for traveling when someone is sick. In-person meetings are BEST!

Do I get to take a break from drug and alcohol recovery on trips?
No. People with chronic illnesses do not get a “break” from their treatment. There are plenty of strategies that make recovery very manageable while enjoying vacations.

Are there any drug and alcohol recovery books I could take with me?
Here are 5 books I recommend for additional reading on drug and alcohol recovery:
1. Mindfulness by Mark Williams
2. Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker
3. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
4. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
5. Beyond Addiction by Jeffrey Foote, Carrie Wilkens , et al.