Recovery Corps is doubling its volunteer force this fall amid rising cases of alcohol and drug abuse in Minnesota.
The federally funded AmeriCorps program is seeking 100 Minnesotans to mentor peers with substance abuse. The "Recovery Navigators" will work with nonprofits and other local organizations to help people post-treatment, connecting them to resources and other services.
"We know the need is so great across the state of Minnesota," said Alana Stimes, director of program development at Minneapolis-based Ampact, formerly Reading & Math Inc., a nonprofit that works with ServeMinnesota to administer AmeriCorps programs. "Now is the best time to be expanding our scope and having more members serving the recovery community statewide."
In Minnesota, drug overdose deaths jumped by 22% in 2021, the highest rate in at least the last decade and echoing a record rise nationwide in drug overdoses last year.
Recovery Corps, which started five years ago, may be among the lesser-known AmeriCorps programs in Minnesota. But the need for the program has grown and Ampact has replicated it nationally, expanding to Illinois and Virginia.
With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing isolation and loneliness, Stimes said, there's been a spike in drug overdose rates and alcoholism. "The demand [for resources] has definitely only increased" for people who have substance use disorders, she said.
As with other programs in the AmeriCorps, often referred to as the domestic Peace Corps, Recovery Corps offers its volunteers training, a modest stipend and an educational award of $6,500 to pay for tuition or student loans.
AmeriCorps programs in Minnesota cover everything from tutoring kids in math and reading to working on environmental projects. During the pandemic, new state programs were launched to address emerging issues, including help for nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic, housing assistance to Minnesotans on the verge of homelessness and the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the state.
The Minnesota Public Health Corps began in August to increase the number and diversity of public health workers as the state faces an urgent staffing crisis.
For more details about Recovery Corps or to apply for the program, go to minnesotarecoverycorps.org.