Virtual Shift

2020 was a challenging time. It may have looked different. We may have had less hugs and more virtual high-fives, but we were still able to accomplish amazing things.

This ongoing series will look at some of the amazing Recovery Community Organizations, their struggles, triumphs, and unrelenting desire to help others find health, wellness, and success on their journeys of recovery.


In March of last year, Recovery Community Network in Central Minnesota, made the difficult decision to shut their physical doors due to COVID-19 restrictions. Just prior to their closure, Recovery Community Network (RCN) with the assistance of funding from the Department of Health Services, was in process of opening new offices. What was to be a joyous occasion, turned into a store faced by many in 2020, but through struggle comes growth.


RCN Director, Major John Donovan, and his staff, had to make  a complete virtual shift. Organizational growth that was planned to be implemented and enacted during year 2 or 3 of the brick and mortar facility, now had to happen at warp-speed. A website was created. A Constant Contact account, which allowed RCN to mass email and make connections to their email network, was enabled. By adapting to the need for change, and embracing the very spirit of recovery, RCN managed to grow their 1400-member listserv to nearly 6000 members by year’s end.


In the COVID-19 world, digital meetings via Zoom have become a standard of 2020, but RCN took the common TRS (Telephonic Recovery Services) system of communication used by Recovery Community Organizations and built on that system by creating TORS (Telephonic Online Recovery Services). Realizing that Gen Y and Millennials don’t always respond well to phone calls, they created a text system, with weekly check-ins of simple questions and conversation starters, like “How are you doing on your Recovery this week?” Those simple texts granted opportunity for an individual to seek support on their recovery journey. Donovan says that those moments, where individuals feel comfortable in showing vulnerability – knowing they need additional help – makes for some “good news stories,” and makes it all worth it.


While many programs changed, the Recovery Community Network’s goal for continued recovery support services for Veterans did not. Major Donovan, who served in the United States Military for 27 years and is a person in long-term recovery for 42 years, has blended his experiences into the programs for RCN by engaging the Veteran community in Central Minnesota.


The Recovery Coach Academy is a workshop training offered by RCN for trainings of individuals hoping to find jobs in Peer Recovery Support Services. Through grants, they have been able to offer the Recovery Coach Academy training to 16 Veterans. The program has proven wildly popular and in 2021 they will be able to provide full scholarships to another 12 veterans! Donovan feels that through these programs, Veterans can use their recovery to give back to those around them. Service to others and their country is something Maj. Donovan has found to aid Veterans in their recovery.


RCN also recently received a $5000 grant from Central Minnesota Community Foundation for a transportation program, which provides free transportation to individuals entering residential care for their substance use. Donovan elaborates, “when an individual makes the decision to enter a [treatment] program, often their only option is to drive themselves to a facility which is not always the safest choice.” Through this program they will provide free and safe transportation to residential treatment. The program will also provide transportation for individuals in local halfway homes to mutual-aid group meetings.


We can all admit that 2020 was challenging for many, but Recovery Community Network and many other RCO’s have proven that the Recovery Community will not be stopped from performing their missions and services to help individuals with substance use disorder and their communities. We cannot wait to see what 2021 has in store us!



If you have a story you want to share, please reach out to Emily Porcelli at