At the WRA’s Recovery Summit in May 2016, the Washington Recovery Alliance presented the inaugural Vince Collins Recovery Champion Award to Vince Collins. As the first of many awards to come, this set a precedent for future awardees who follow Vince’s commitment to improving the lives of people in recovery. Every year since, the Washington Recovery Alliance has proudly recognized a community leader with this award.
Due to his exceptional leadership and commitment towards making recovery a reality for all, the WRA is honored to present Victor Estrada, chair of the Central Washington Recovery Coalition and former WRA board member, as the 2021 Vince Collins Recovery Champion awardee.
Victor’s commitment to bettering the community around him is evident in both his work and personal life. He has led homeless outreach for the last three years, engaging people experiencing homelessness in conversation and connecting them to a variety of resources, depending on their needs. Victor was also appointed by Governor Inslee this year to serve on the Statewide Reentry Council, which works to improve public safety and outcomes for individuals reentering the community in collaboration with organizations, healthcare and housing providers, law enforcement, educational entities, and other community leaders. Victor is very active in a 12 step program and a member of a local Alano club. In his free time, Victor shared that he enjoys road trips and spending time with friends and people in recovery.
As a formerly incarcerated person, Victor continues to use his lived experience as a powerful tool for legislative change. In partnership with the WRA’s annual Recovery Advocacy Day at the state capitol in Olympia, as well as through his role on the Statewide Reentry Council, Victor continually elevates his voice to inform state policymakers that incarceration isn’t the only route to recovery, and that there need to be more treatment options to support individuals recovering from substance use disorders and addiction. Victor recently started working as a recovery coach inside a local jail working with individuals to give them hope and offer some new ideas upon release. He also works with the local juvenile facility to mentor individuals looking for a way out of the gang lifestyle. This July, Victor will move into a full-time Recovery Coach position.
Victor’s nominator said: “Victor is a staple to our recovery community and also our community as a whole, he is selfless, honorable and his word is valuable. I don’t think our recovery efforts would be as strong without him being who he is.”
In a short interview, Victor shared a bit about his experience and his optimism surrounding recovery for him and his community:
What gives you hope and inspiration?
Honestly people reaching out gives me Hope. Watching a person get their life back on track. Get a job, get their families and kids back. Watching someone laugh cause they never had nothing to laugh at in addiction.
What inspires me is seeing people who are passionate about change. Seeing people lift each other up instead of putting them down.
What do you want others to know about recovery?
My biggest reminder to people is to remember they are humans too. When you see that person struggling with addiction who is on the corner with a sign. That is someone’s loved one. And it could easily be you.
How can others support and be allies to those in recovery?
Don’t be judgmental. Remain open minded as well as teachable. And once again remember that could be you or a loved one.
What changes would you like to see in the behavioral health system?
I would like to see access for all who need it. I would like to see it be where an organization will help even if you don’t have access to.
Victor’s story is one of power and persistence, and you can learn more about him, his recovery journey, and his story by watching his feature in the Central Washington Recovery Coalition’s Youtube series, Stories of Recovery, which highlights the recovery stories of fellow coalition members.
The Washington Recovery Alliance is incredibly grateful to Victor for his dedication to supporting those in recovery and promoting the reality of “recovery for all” throughout Washington State.
Victor was awarded the 2021 Vince Collins Recovery Champion award at the WRA’s 2021 Re-Imagine Recovery Summit in late June. You can watch a recording of Victor’s award acceptance here.
Congratulations again to Victor on being the 2021 Recovery Champion, and thank you for your dedication to recovery!