Brothers In Recovery is a unique group of men who have come together to
support each other in positive character development. It is a group of diverse individuals striving
to live moral, spiritual, and productive lives
In the spring of 1988 five black men, Jamil Hudson, Nabil Sami, Rahim Burton, Yusef White
and Abdul Malik decided to put together a spiritual retreat for men in the process of recovery
from substance abuse. The idea was initiated by Jamil and presented to the other four who were
his close friends. They all agreed it was a good idea so they put their ideas and efforts together
to launch the organization.
BIR continued to hold annual spiritual retreats at the Mount Alvernia Monastery in Wappinger
Falls New York for eleven consecutive years. The Alumni continued to grow and in 1999 Mount
Alvernia decided to renovate their facility. This included reducing the number of available beds.
BIR was continuing to grow while Mount Alvernia chose to downsize. As a result, the group
found itself having to look for another retreat facility.
In the year 2000, we found a new home at the Betty Shabazz Retreat Center in Otisville, New
York. It was a crucial time because the brothers were so use to the tranquil, familiar atmosphere
of Mt Alvernia. The change was difficult but we made it. We found that we could evolve as a
group. Betty Shabazz Retreat Center was our home for two years.
Then in 2002 we received the unfortunate news that the owners of the Betty Shabazz Retreat
Center had decided to sell their facility. Again we had to find another home for our alumni.
Thanks to the help of one of our members, Hamzah Byars, we found the Eddy Farm Retreat and
Conference Center in Sparrow Bush, New York. The discovery of this venue proved to be a true
blessing. This was just one of many such blessings that the organization has benefited from
since its inception. An example of another blessing is the generous offer by one of our earliest
supporters, Imam Abu Kareem Shabazz. He generously offered to rent us a store front in Harlem
at a nominal fee. This allowed us to have a face in the community.
It became apparent that more than just men in recovery could benefit from this experience. As a
result, the retreat was opened to men recovering from substance abuse and other traumatic life
experiences. Opening up our organization proved to be beneficial to our growth and its spiritual
health. We are all recovering from something.
We decided to expand even further and officially incorporate Brothers in Recovery as a nonprofit
organization. We started the non-profit organization application process in 2002, filed it in 2003
and were recognized as a non-profit organization in the state of New York in February
2004. As a group we agreed upon a statement of purpose; “The Corporation is not formed for
pecuniary profit or financial gain. The Corporation is organized to provide information and
resources for brothers in recovery from substance abuse. These include retreats, information
workshops, substance abuse workshops and interventions.” We also developed an objective for
our group: “The objective of the Corporation is to promote and support a positive drug free
lifestyle among men in the recovery process. This lifestyle would result in stronger family units
and ultimately in stronger communities.” We elected a board of directors in December 2004, and
developed a mission statement for our group. Our mission is: “To inspire, encourage, and
support the transitional growth of individuals, families, and communities spiritually, mentally,
physically and economically.”
As the size of the organization grew, BIR’s activities also grew. We realized we could do a lot
more as a group than just attend the retreat each year. A weekly support group and monthly
workshops were established. The support group proved to be very beneficial to our Alumni. This
allowed them to share their individual issues without having to wait a year until the next retreat.
Also, because of the intimacy of the support group, brothers were able to talk about issues that
men don’t normally address. The workshops deal with community issues such as HIV and
Hepatitis C with free testing, life insurance, social security, and interventions. These workshops
are free and open to the public. We have beginner’s computer classes for our members and a
radio program, “Another Prospective”, once a week on WHCR 90.3 FM. BIR also provides a
free annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and an annual end of summer cookout for the
community which is also free. BIR also collaborates with other likeminded organizations. We
are partners in an annual Kwanzaa celebration and have participated in several anti-violence
marches in the Harlem community. Last but not least, BIR is a member of the Forward South
Bronx Coalition, an advocacy group that targets stopping and preventing underage drinking and
substance abuse in general.
In 2018 BIR celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Eddy Farm Retreat and Conference Center.
Approximately 250 men attended from as far north as Canada and as far south as Texas.
Individuals formerly enslaved to narcotics and myriad traumatic life situations, affirmed 5-to-40
years of liberation. Their professions ranged from entrepreneurs, teachers, sanitation workers,
custodians, entertainers, social workers, and clerics.
In October of 2019 we elected a new Board of Directors and with the guidance of our new
president, Reggie James, we are in the process of becoming a state certified recovery
organization and developing an integrated peer workforce.
We continue to grow and develop, as a group, in brotherhood.