What Is It Like To Be a Peer in the Workforce?

Current Peer Recovery Specialists share their career journey, including why they became a peer, where they work, and their role in the recovery process.

happy friends from diverse cultures laughing and having a good time together

Marie Harris


Why I became a Peer
Hi, I’m a woman in a long time of recovery. I’m here by the grace of God and my testimony is about not giving up, dusting yourself off, and stepping over the craters in the ground where you think that you might fall through if you do something positive. I was out on the streets doing drugs for three and a half years, and I was homeless. When I had moved out of state, I didn’t know anyone  but my cousin, and she didn’t allow me to come back to the house until I straightened my life back up. I went to jail down in Florida, and I can honestly say most of my struggles happened when I was in Florida because I did not have the safety net of support that I had back home where everybody knew me, and all my family support. I would have never been able to pick myself up and dust myself off without the support from others and become the thriving person in society that I am today.

Where I work: 
The Minnesota Certification Board

What I do in my role: 
Diversity Facilitator and Training Coordinator


Jonda Crum


Why I became a peer:  
I am a woman in long-term recovery and what that means to me is that I get to live another day free from the monster that controlled my life for years. I was addicted for over 20 years.  Heroin and methamphetamine use almost killed me. In 2017 I almost died from IV drug use. While in the hospital I chose to go to treatment and take a chance at turning my life around. The best decision I ever made. I have been substance free ever since and that was January 31st, 2017. I just celebrated 6 years of sobriety and it feels good.

Where I work: 
I now work as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist / Certified Peer support specialist at Minnesota Recovery Connection.

What I do in my role: 
I can help support others who are trying to turn their lives around and have a chance at living in long-term recovery for the rest of their lives.

Daniel Laskowski


Why I became a peer:  

I initially became a mental health peer to better understand and serve individuals while I was working on my organization’s warm line. I knew that I could provide more meaningful support with a proven framework under my belt.  Additionally, I benefited from peer support after some of my darkest days– I just didn’t know that it was called: peer support.  The way it made me feel validated and as if I was not alone stuck with me forever.  This is a far more powerful experience that I could have ever imagined.

Where I work: 
I currently work for Wellness in the Woods, a peer-run organization that just celebrated 10 years of service.

What I do in my role: 
I started working on the warm line, with no idea how things would go. I learned so much about peer support and what it meant to actually walk alongside someone in whatever they are facing. After more that a year of late nights and early mornings, I was asked to direct a new program for the organization and now find myself as the Chief Operating Officer of Wellness in the Woods. I am honored to do this work every single day and eternally grateful for the opportunity to have discovered this world of peer support. It has changed my life and given me so much more purpose.

Empowering Recovery: The Role of Peers

The Peer support system is instrumental in promoting recovery and improving overall well-being for individuals facing mental health or substance use challenges.