Jacqueline Lee is a self-described foodie and Realtor who loves Raleigh.
She also doesn’t drink alcohol, and she’s created a social group for anyone to join.
“I’m experiencing a whole new side to Raleigh now that I don’t drink, which is really exciting,” she said in an email. “I’ve discovered that there’s a huge recovery community and so many awesome things to do in Raleigh that don’t involve drinking.”
She’s the organizer behind Zero Proof Raleigh, which organizes a variety of fun, alcohol-free events. [@zeroproofraleigh]
“I remember when I first stopped drinking, I searched “sober” and “alcohol-free” in Raleigh, which thankfully led to many resources for getting support in recovery for stopping drinking, however I didn’t see any social groups that provide alcohol-free events.
“Most always, events have a bar with very limited non-alcoholic options or the sole focus of the event revolves around drinking. So I figured if there’s not a group planning alcohol-free events out there, somebody has got to jump in and do it, so why not me.”
How Zero Proof Raleigh got started
She started by gathering inspiration from other groups and cities, such as Counter Culture in Charlotte and alcohol-free bars in San Francisco and Austin.
“I wanted to provide a space in Raleigh where anybody could join who wants a fun, alcohol-free event. Personally I am sober and have been since March 4th of 2020, but I wanted Zero Proof to be for anybody: sober, sober-curious or for someone who still drinks but would occasionally like an event that doesn’t have alcohol being served.”
What Zero Proof Raleigh is all about
“Showing how much fun can be had at alcohol-free events. It’s also about providing a community for people in sobriety to connect with others who don’t drink.
When I first stopped drinking, it was so daunting. I hardly knew anyone who didn’t drink and I didn’t know anything about recovery. I also had this sad, but very real fear at the time that “the fun is over” since I quit drinking.
I have learned in my time of being sober almost a year and a half that my way of thinking was SO far from how life in sobriety is.”
Zero Proof isn’t just for people who are sober. Jacqueline aims for these events to be open to anyone, and to normalize not drinking.
“I’ve gotten all kinds of reactions for being alcohol-free, and I have the hope that it can become more common to live an alcohol-free lifestyle and to promote more places having exciting booze-free drink options.”
Zero Proof Raleigh events
Some of Jacqueline’s favorite past events include:
A group trip to Triangle Rock Club:
“Most people who attended had never rock climbed before, and it was such a cool experience to see everyone push themselves outside their comfort zone to try something new and end up loving it.”
A walking tour of Historic Oakwood Cemetery:
“We learned about the history of Raleigh’s past through people who were buried there.”
Jacqueline’s favorite event so far is a fundraiser concert held at Pine State Coffee, where Molly Stevens (seen on ‘The Voice’) performed. The event raised $2,600 for Healing Transitions.
“It felt so good to raise money for such an incredible organization, along with having an alcohol-free concert where everyone had a blast.”
Coming up soon: A smaller group outing to Five Star Restaurant. “I want to plan some smaller gatherings that allow people to really get to know each other.”
She’s also working on an event with Current Wellness in October.
“On the horizon I have a lot of plans for the group, but also am aware of the reality we may need to scale back again or plan mainly outdoor events with concerns over Covid. Whatever happens, I’ll roll with it and put things on hold or find new, creative ways to connect with people who are excited about Zero Proof.”
On choosing a sober lifestyle
What do you wish more people knew about socializing without alcohol or choosing an alcohol-free lifestyle?: “I have had more fun than I ever have while being sober and have never felt prouder of myself. I feel the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. I’ve done all kinds of adventurous things such as driving all the way to Acadia National Park with my best friend on a road trip. I’ve gone rock climbing and have started playing golf. I got a dog who goes on all sorts of adventures with me and I got a tattoo in sobriety. I’ve even occasionally danced at clubs completely sober, sipping Red Bull. Does that sound like a boring, sad life? Quite the opposite. But that’s how your mindset can be, especially stopping drinking when you’re young. I stopped when I was 25 and everyday I’m so incredibly thankful that this is my life now. That’s what I want to share with people through Zero Proof. I want anyone who’s feeling the way I used to feel to realize they’re not alone and they have a full, exciting life waiting for them.”
Connect with Zero Proof Raleigh: [@zeroproofraleigh]