BIR's History

BIR Biography In Progress



The Brothers in Recovery Organization 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, Nabil, Rahim, Yusef 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 and believed they could make it happen. In Jamil’s own words; “We started at the infant stage, not knowing very much about what we were doing or what to expect; but we went ahead anyway strictly on faith alone. We began with 44 brothers and 2 facilitators. Two of our earliest themes were Journey in to Self and The Search Continues. We did a lot of good work, and I know many brothers benefited from it, myself included. We continued to grow until we got to a point where we said, Hey! We have the expertise among ourselves to put together and facilitate the retreat. So we again, moving on faith alone, gave our first retreat facilitated by our own core brotherhood, which became known as the BIR committee. To say the least, it was an overwhelming success.”


The BIR committee continued to put together the retreats at the Mont Alvernia Monastery in Wappinger Falls New York for eleven consecutive years. The Alumni continued to grow and some of the BIR committee members changed. In 1999 Mont Alvernia decided to renovate their facility, 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 house.


In the year 2000, the new millennium, we found a new home at the Betty Shabazz Retreat Center in Otisville, New York. Our theme for the retreat that year was New Beginnings. 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. The past themes of our retreats and the spirit of Jamil helped to get us through. To further quote Jamil who had passed on in 1997: “We came up with many innovative ideas, which enhanced the retreat. On retreat number seven, the theme was The Ties That Bind Us Together. Where is this all coming from, or what's my point? My point is this in a word - Maturation - or moving towards full development.” We found that we could evolve as a group. Just as Jamil had talked about innovative ideas and maturation years earlier, our theme for our second year at Betty Shabzz was 13 Degrees of Spiritual Maturity, marking our thirteenth retreat, a continuation of our process of spiritual development.


The group had also recognized the economic potential of BIR. We discussed and decided to start the Black Investment Resources investment club. The Alumni started pooling their money to invest in stocks. The investment club collected and successfully managed over fifty thousand ($50,000.00) dollars in the stock market. We realized we could do a lot more as a group than attend the retreat each year. The investment club proved to be a successful venture.


At this juncture of our development our strength as a group was continuing to grow. When we received the unfortunate news that the owners of the Betty Shabazz Retreat Center had decided to sell their facility we knew what we had to do, find another home for our Alumni. Thanks to the help of one of our members, Hamzah, we found Eddy Farm Retreat and Conference Center in Sparrow Bush, New York.


We decided to expand even further and officially incorporate Brothers in Recovery as a non-profit organization. We started the non-profit organization application process in 2002, filed it in 2003 and were granted an advanced ruling as a recognized non-profit organization in the state of New York in October 2003. 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.” And we developed an objective for our group: “The objective of the Corporation is to promote and support a positive drug free life style among men in the recovery process. This lifestyle would result in stronger family units and ultimately in stronger communities.”


The next step was to get other Alumni involved so we realized that we needed a Board of Directors to help manage this growing organization. We elected a board of directors in December 2004, selected an Executive Director 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.” To fulfill the mission of BIR, the organization is soliciting additional talents, ideas and expertise of its members to enhance the corporation.


We are still developing and growing as a group…



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