SOAR Across Alabama

SOAR-AIR 2024

“We are here because we’ve been there.”

This seemingly simple phrase left a powerful impact on me during the opening ceremony of the AIR Conference 2024 that was held at Shocco Springs in early April. “SOAR (Supporting Our Aligned Recoveries) Across Alabama” was our theme, which focused on connecting through shared experiences while embracing differences. Various workshops, keynote speakers and fun filled experiences that were impactful for the 400+ individuals in attendance left me wanting more. More connection, more support for all of us! As I have reflected on this over the past week, I came to this realization amidst a deep conversation surrounding peer support with a dear friend:

“We come together because we are peers-we connect because we are people!”

These words came to life as I thought them, imagined them, spoke them aloud. In my current role as Acting Executive Director of Wings Across Alabama, I am no different in that way than any other Alabamian who is living with mental health challenges. That fact within itself forces me to be a voice for those who feel they no longer have a voice. For those who feel unheard and unseen. The connections made as a Certified Peer Specialist and the evidence-based power of peers is not only for recipients of mental health services in our local communities. Those of us who continue to navigate both our personal and professional lived and living experiences successfully are able to do so for a number of reasons- one very important reason being SUPPORT!

So as we celebrate AIR 2024 and look hopefully towards AIR 2025, I ask each of you to join me in truly connecting with others! Although mental health challenges are what led us here, what keeps us are the same connecting pieces, those building blocks that identify us as human beings. AIR was a prime example. Whether you are a Taylor Swift fan, love karaoke, are obsessed with all things Sci-Fi, practice meditation, enjoy fishing or writing poetry, you were able to CONNECT with likeminded peers. Let us continue to connect so that we can continue to support one another!

Charisse Rupert
Acting Executive Director
Wings Across Alabama

Why SOAR Across Alabama?

SOAR (Supporting Our Aligned Recoveries) is the epitome of what Wings Across Alabama is and why we do what we do. Every individual has the right to recover on their own terms. We strongly believe that our unique Peers Across Alabama community is strengthened when we as peers share our personal lived and living experiences to encourage and empower others. Whether that is accomplished by connecting with Alabama Warm Line Specialists and accessing our free, confidential non-crisis peer support line anytime day or night, attending our ART (Art as a Recovery Tool) , Music, Certified Peer Specialist or all-inclusive Community Support Groups, creating a recovery action plan through APPR (Action Planning for Prevention and Recovery), or participating in our SAMHSA funded Peers Across Alabama Virtual Resource Hub, which provides personal and professional support to CPS in the field through videos and resources, our four programs- Alabama Warm Line, Education, CPS Support Groups and Grant Program provide individuals with the freedom to find the recovery and wellness tools that work best for them! The beautiful and most impactful part of this is that through individual seeking, a community formed and forged into something much stronger than any one person can create alone is born!

We have also found and experienced the magic that occurs when we connect with other community partners such as NAMI and ROSS to collectively SOAR!

All of this is possible because of our dedicated and passionate Wings Team! Everyone who is a part of Wings Across Alabama is a person who themselves has navigated the rocky road of mental health challenges to a place of wellness and recovery. We aim to bring people together with shared experiences to support one another, provide a safe space where they feel accepted, understood, seen, heard and valued. We are the individuals we serve!

As 2023 comes to an end, we are grateful for all we have accomplished and excited about what’s on the horizon. Our new ASAP (Additional Support And Prevention) Support Group focused on supporting those who have been discharged from crisis diversion centers, area psychiatric facilities, callers to the Alabama Warm Line, 988 or anyone who would like additional support before and/or after experiencing a crisis will add an additional layer of ongoing peer support for Alabamians.

Thank YOU for being an integral part of Wings Across Alabama! The best is yet to come…..

Charisse Rupert
Acting Executive Director