Brian Portugais, a civil engineering graduate student, founded Agape Life at the beginning of this semester to help those affected by alcohol or other drugs (AOD).
“I was a little shocked that there were 273 student organizations and not one of them talked about alcohol or drugs. That was intimidating and inspiring,” Portugais said.
Portugais himself has dealt with alcoholism. Last semester, Lauren Oe, Boise State Case Manager and advisor to Agape Life, told Portugais that another student had to leave school due to a similar situation.
“I said (to Oe) isn’t there a student organization on campus that deals with this stuff?’ And she looked at me and said, ‘No, but you would make the perfect president of one,’” Portugais said.
Portugais came up with the club’s name; it is a Greek word. “Agape means unconditional love,” Portugais said. Agape Life focuses on creating a peer-to-peer support group for all struggles with being a student and maintaining a sober lifestyle.
“For me, it is not easy to go to a center or a professional. That’s where we are going to fill the gap because we are students that have dealt with the same problem,” Portugais said.
However, Agape Life strongly supports these organizations and stands as a referral resource to the professional departments on campus such as The Wellness Center and Counseling Center.
Agape Life strives to create an atmosphere that is safe for people to address these issues.
“It kind of opens up a subject that is very taboo. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to want to better people’s lives,” Jaymee Danielson, an Agape Life officer, said.
Portugais wants incoming members to know that they are welcome to share as much or as little as they feel comfortable.
“More than anything it’s not (incoming members) telling their problem it’s them listening to my story first and then realizing, ‘Oh, I’m not unique. I’m not a freak,’” Portugais said.
The structure of this club is informal, especially during its infancy stage.
“It was really important to me that I let people know that we weren’t using the AA model. Anyone who wants to get involved can make this whatever they want. We’re very organic,” Portugais said.
Portugais strives to make a future where Agape Life is a student-run center on campus. Additionally, he would like to create an on campus sober living community.
The purpose of Agape Life is to not just help those struggling with addiction.
“I don’t know a person that hasn’t been affected by alcohol or drugs in some manner. That means anyone can come,” Portugais said.
People involved with Agape Life interact with each other daily for various reasons related to sobriety or not. Agape Life’s purpose is to be a space where people can find support from other students living sober lives.
“Life is scary. I don’t care if you are 17 or 34, life is scary and you have to have a support system that’s not just your family. It’s nice to be able to be on campus and have such a diverse group of people and know they have my back,” Danielson said.
Students that are interested in joining Agape Life may email email@example.com for more information or visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/AgapeLifeBSU.