By Mariah Kline | Non-Profit Profile
Louisville native Jesse Hawkins launched the Sober Voyager on April 16 of this year, the same day he celebrated three years of sobriety. While this organization has only been around for a short time, Hawkins is working through multiple avenues to spread awareness and compassion throughout the nation.
Sober Voyager was inspired by Hawkins’ own journey of recovery after he gave up drinking three years ago. He started by creating the Sober Voyager Foundation, a 501c3 that helps those who want to seek rehabilitation but cannot afford it. The foundation works with the Morton Center of Louisville, the place where Hawkins first sought help himself, to pay for the costs of treatment.
Along with the foundation, Sober Voyager has a line of bracelets designed for family, friends and other loved ones of those who are working through an addiction. With each bracelet purchased, the buyer also receives one to give away. Wearing a bracelet allows a person’s loved one to show support on a daily basis, and gives the person in recovery a tangible expression of how far they have come.
“I wanted something that could act as a reminder piece of not only where you are today but where you want to be in life,” says Hawkins. “I wanted it to be something you could physically touch and wear as a representation of your own journey or your support of someone else’s journey.”
What sets Sober Voyager apart from similar organizations is that Hawkins is not only raising funds or selling a product, he’s also sharing his experience on a personal basis. He is currently on a mission to visit all fifty states and share his story and the stories of others who have both won and lost their battles with addiction. In each state, he is doing speaking engagements and pop-up shops in places where the conversation of addiction normally would not come up. As he connects with people at concerts, sporting events, festivals and the like, Hawkins is getting out of his own comfort zone and showing others how they can seek help and live addiction free.
“The scariest part of getting sober for me wasn’t giving up drinking or walking into rehabilitation,” he reveals. “It was more the thought of having to give up my friends or never being able to walk back into a bar or go to a concert. But I didn’t have to, and I want other people to know that they can continue to do the things they want to do and live how they want to live.”
In addition to the foundation, bracelet business and traveling, Hawkins has also partnered with a number of local restaurants, including The Hub, Fork and Barrel and others to create a number of mocktails, coffee drinks and edibles. These items provide alternative choices for those in recovery, and a percentage from each item sold goes back to Sober Voyager Foundation.
As Hawkins continues his trip around the country, he’s also looking forward to Spring 2018, when he will be partnering with Mint Julep Tours to put on a large scale fundraiser for the foundation. While plans are still in the early stages, Hawkins guarantees it will be a fun night that everyone can enjoy while supporting the foundation’s work with the Morton Center.
If you would like to follow Hawkins’ noble adventure, you can find him on social media or view his journal on the Sober Voyager’s website. VT