Bachelorette star at Grasso Tech to discuss community and recovery
Groton ― Zac Clark, who was the 2020 winner of the popular The Bachelorette television program and works to help people in recovery, spoke to students, educators, and community representatives at Ella T. Grasso Technical High School on Tuesday, about the importance of community.
He said community is a big part of his work and part of what he loves about the “Students for Recovery” club at Grasso Tech. He said while it’s important to speak to the person who might have a substance use disorder or struggles with mental health and needs to seek recovery, it’s also important to have allies.
“It’s just as important to have those people, like a lot of the students in the room, who might not be in recovery but are advocates and allies for us,” he said.
Clark brought his advocacy to Grasso Tech and offered praise and help to students in the “Students for Recovery” club who are working to make change at their high school and in their community.
Clark is the founder and CEO of Release Recovery, “a New York-based addiction and mental health recovery program,” and the founding board member for Release Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit, according to Release Recovery’s website.
Clark, who has been in recovery for alcohol and drug use since August 2011, talked with students and educators during a lunch, catered by students in the culinary arts trade, and attended by the Students for Recovery club, school staff and administrators, and representatives of community organizations.
“Students for Recovery, which held a Recovery Fest event last spring to share resources and support with the community, formed at Grasso Tech about a year and a half ago to focus on "Awareness, Support and Advocacy.“
“We hope that Students for Recovery can provide a sense of community to our school, and we want it to be a place where people know that it’s OK to talk about hard things we’re going through and that people hear that we’ll support you, there are students here that will support you too,” said Taylor Sanders, 17, Students for Recovery vice president and Grasso Tech senior. “We just want to make a recovery safe school.”
Clark on Tuesday toured the school where he saw the students working in their shops, from bio-environmental technology to welding, metal fabricating and ship fitting. He took photos and videos with students ― and even put on safety glasses and soldered a pipe under the guidance of Sanders.
Students for Recovery invited Clark to attend their second Recovery Fest planned for this spring. Clark, Release Recovery Executive Assistant Margaret Ross, and Doug Levy, the executive director of Release Recovery Foundation, the nonprofit, discussed ways to help the students plan a run for recovery event.
Clark offered to help and invited the students to a fundraising gala in New York City.
The students shared that they are trying to create a wellness center at the school, and he offered to help.
Shayleen Castillo, president of Students for Recovery, spoke to Clark during the lunch about how the group has inspired her to major in psychology in college. She said they also talked about the school environment and helping youths.
Clark’s visit came about after Carolyn Wilson, coordinator for Groton Alliance for Substance use Prevention, had been looking to book a celebrity video message through Cameo to commend the Students for Recovery. She thought Clark would be a good fit because he is well known from The Bachelorette and uses his platform to help people.
Wilson said that after she told Clark about Students for Recovery, he was so moved that he offered in the video to talk with the students and support them. Students then reached out to Clark.
Tammy de la Cruz, founder and vice president of Community Speaks Out, said Clark’s visit gives her hope. She said not only has he announced he’s in recovery, but he’s giving freely of himself and coming to make a difference in a child’s life.
“He’s going to impact somebody today,” de la Cruz said. “One person makes it worth it.”
Jose Garcia, a member of Students for Recovery, said not many schools have a program like Students for Recovery and he wants people to be aware of it and for more schools to create a similar group.
"We’re just here to make a difference in the world and the community,“ Garcia said.
“I think in order to make real change in this world we have to rely on our youth,” Clark said after the event. “We know that the opposite of substance abuse, the opposite of addiction is community, and so what these kids are trying to do here at Grasso is inspiring.”