“Do something you love to do and have a passion for.” Q&A with new Board Member Khou Vang

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’s newest board member, Khou Vang, and asked him to talk about how he got involved in the grassroots recovery movement.


Meet MARCO Board Member Khou Vang:

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


Khou: My recovery journey has been a journey of twists and turns and many failed attempts. My journey took me through many periods of homelessness, incarceration, and nine different trips to treatment. Finally, in 2017, during my 9th attempt at treatment, I was sent to a faith-based, 1-year-long treatment program at Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge where something finally clicked. I was finally able to surrender my will, faith, and addictions to something greater than myself, and for me, that was Jesus Christ. I was determined to change my life completely to become a productive member of society. 


During this time, a new passion grew within me, which was the passion for the recovery community and giving back by sharing my testimony and helping others in their recovery. After completing the year-long program at MN Adult Teen Challenge I was given the opportunity to work there as an intern in their aftercare department. After my internship was over, I was hired as a full-time Recovery Coach. I was then able to get certified as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist and Mental Health Peer Support Specialist. 


In the past few years, I have enjoyed giving back to the recovery community by serving on the board and providing cultural advisory counsel for Wellness in the Woods. I have enjoyed bringing more awareness to the Hmong community about addiction and recovery by sharing my testimony at many events within the community. In 2021, I started a sober cycling group where a group of people who are in recovery come together a few times each summer to go on group rides for fellowship and support. I am currently working as a Peer Engagement Specialist for YourPath, serving as a first point of contact for individuals in need of and/or seeking services for recovery. I am currently in college, working on my bachelor’s degree in addiction counseling. My goal for the future is that I want to help bring more culturally appropriate recovery services and programs to the Twin Cities area for the Southeast Asian community.


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


Khou: Do something you love to do and have a passion for. Choose something or an area in the recovery community that you want to work with and start from there. As an example, for me, it was working with the Hmong community and bringing more awareness to that community about addiction and recovery. I also have a love for cycling, so I brought cycling to the recovery community. Your impact will be a lot greater if you are doing something that you love and are passionate about.


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


Khou: The most rewarding part about working in recovery is seeing the success stories, knowing that I was a part of that success story, and the feeling that I was able to make a positive impact on someone else’s recovery. Seeing someone a few years from now and seeing that they are still sober and doing good just brings joy to my heart.


MARCO: What have been some of your greatest tools in sustaining your recovery?


Khou: My greatest tool for sustaining my recovery has been having a strong support system. I have at least 10 people on speed dial that I know will pick up my call, willing to listen and support me in whatever I am going through. So for me, my support system has been crucial to sustaining my recovery. 


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


Khou: For me, building a recovery-oriented future means breaking barriers to treatment and making recovery more accessible to everyone. I feel no matter where you live, what language you speak, what cultural differences you have, or what religion you believe in, everyone should have the same level of access to appropriate recovery services. 

To learn more about Khou Vang, read his full bio at: https://marcomn.org/staff-board/


Join our Newsletter

Stay connected with us on updates, upcoming events, and membership.