Brandy Brink – Founder and CEO of WEcovery and MARCO Board Member

MARCO is a peer-run organization, led and governed by individuals affected by Substance Use Disorders who have direct experience in Recovery Community Organization (RCO) leadership and programs. Over the next few months we’ll be featuring some of our board members and their personal connection to MARCO’s mission to educate, advocate and mobilize the grassroots recovery movement across Minnesota. 

This month we sat down with MARCO board member Brandy Brink – founder and CEO of WEcovery, operated by Beyond Brink, and asked her to talk about how she got involved in the grassroots recovery movement.

My soul was on fire for this work”: A conversation with Brandy Brink


MARCO: How did you first step into your role in recovery? Can you share your story?


Brandy: I’ve been on My Recovery Journey since I was 12. Lots of research. In 2016, I was working as a property manager and I was navigating my own early recovery. I myself had several barriers to support within my community, including housing. Had I not done what I did for a living, it would’ve been very difficult for me. Once others became aware of my connection to property management, I had a lot of people asking if I could help them find second chance landlords or affordable housing. It was very obvious to me that our community needed more. 


(We needed more) recovery support than what was offered. I worked with my employer at the time on a vacant house that they had, and it took us over a year, but in that time we were able to open our first women’s housing program and developed a Recovery Community Organization. Almost immediately we saw the need. I became certified as a Peer Recovery Specialist, and my soul was on fire for this work. I continued to work at my day job and started a snow removal company to pay for the first women’s Recovery House. At that time myself and one other person were volunteering to our community as Peer Recovery Specialists. In 2018, we applied for a Minnesota Department of Human Services grant to provide recovery support to high school and college students. With the grant I was able to write in a salary, which allowed me to do this work full-time. We opened our first center and within a few weeks we had had anywhere from 12 to 25 people per day walking in. At that point, we knew that we needed to figure out a way to stay open. 


Since 2018, we have expanded our recovery housing to seven locations with 89 beds. In total, we have office locations now in Mankato and Alexandria, and we do work in 40 counties. There’s a lot of details that happened in between all of that and the journey was not smooth and straightforward but for us, we had to figure out a way to continue to show up for our community.


MARCO: What recovery support services do you offer?


Brandy: We currently have multiple programs, however, they really do fall under three services: Our recovery housing program, our peer recovery support services, and our Harm Reduction Team. The peer recovery support services show up in many places, including 245G treatment clinics, emergency departments, middle and high schools, and shelters. We also  have partnerships within our community to provide peer recovery support services, including with law enforcement, child protection, and social services. Our Minnesota Harm Reduction Team is an outreach service that includes Narcan distribution and training and a 24/7 call or text support line.


MARCO: What differentiates an RCO from other services on the continuum of care?


Brandy: As far as an RCO and our specific services, I believe that we are a piece of the puzzle on the continuum of care. One thing that I have always been grateful for as an RCO is that we can move along all of the systems in place, and that our services don’t stop at our door. We are really truly able to walk alongside each of our participants regardless of where they are on that continuum and what other organizations or agencies they may be involved with. They don’t lose our support because other services might change.


MARCO: What was it like being a member of the Minnesota Behavioral Health Planning Council?


Brandy: I was always really grateful to be at the table. To lift the voice of a person with lived experience and the voices of Minnesota’s Recovery Community Organizations. I think it’s important to show up where we can and to use our voice to inform, educate and advocate.


MARCO: Do you have any advice or tips for someone who is just starting their grassroots efforts in the recovery community?


Brandy: Celebrate the wins. No matter how small. Making an impact on even one person creates a wave. Don’t give up and you are doing better than you believe you are. I don’t know if that is advice or tips but it is something that was helpful for me to know. Seek multiple funding sources. Engage in your community. We work better together and help can come from unexpected places. For us, I always wanted to bridge the gap between the recovery community and the community at large. I wanted recovery to have a seat at the table within the community,  not outside of it. My best advice was getting involved in my entire community as a whole. Lean on people smarter than you, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel and there’s so much valuable information and approaches that have been done before us. Lean into all of those areas. You are not alone. 


MARCO: What is the most rewarding part of working in recovery for you?


Brandy: It’s the people for me. It almost feels selfish because I get a front-row seat to some of the most amazing comeback stories. Sometimes it is someone simply having a savings account with $20 in it, and they’ve never had that before.. All the way up to someone finding recovery and then turning around and reaching back to help others. Celebrating each individual participant makes the hard days a little easier. I don’t know if saying I’m lucky is the right way of saying it, but I’m incredibly humbled and honored. 


MARCO: Where do you see the biggest gaps in recovery support and how can these be improved upon?


Brandy: Being able to meet everyone where they are. Oftentimes, funding is attached to a specific way that we can show up. In a world where harm reduction truly saves the lives of our community members, we need to get creative. We need to rethink the way that we have been approaching things or the idea that we know what is best. I don’t know what recovery or success looks like for every person that we serve, but I hope we can continue on the road I believe we are on today: all pathways and all people. And that truly looks like system change.

MARCO: What does “building a recovery-oriented future,” mean to you?


Brandy: Ending stigma. Normalizing that people like me exist. It’s not shameful. When substance use disorder is discussed and recovery is normal. There is hope that no one will feel alone or alienated, and that might mean there are folks who don’t have to suffer as long. When I think of building a recovery-oriented future I think of greater access and support. It’s very exciting to think about and I think we are on our way.


Brandy is the founder and CEO of WEcovery, operated by Beyond Brink, a nonprofit Recovery Community Organization originating in Mankato with multiple locations throughout Minnesota that offers transitional housing programs, peer recovery support services, training, and integration of peer supports into environments such as healthcare, jails, shelters and schools.


To learn more about Brandy Brink and WEcovery visit:


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