In spring 2020, as the coronavirus started to spread in San Antonio, Rise Recovery found itself in a paradox: How do we be with the people we’re helping if we can’t be with them?
The nonprofit, which was established locally in 1977, offers teens and young adults recovery programs for drug and alcohol addiction. In a field where relationship building is key, Rise Recovery has found it difficult to make connections when health officials are promoting social distance.
In some cases, the organization lost touch with clients. Across the country, overdoses took a dramatic upturn in part because of the isolation.
“Overdoses have been higher in the past calendar than they have ever been before,” said Evita Morin, Rise Recovery’s executive director. “I had mentioned this in the beginning of COVID, what we call a second wave of health issues: mental and behavioral issues as a result of COVID are coming in very heavy right now in our community.”
To compensate for the isolation, Rise Recovery actually grew its services last year, despite having to lay off staff at the start of the crisis. While in-person counseling didn’t completely go away, the organization launched remote peer-to-peer and support group interactions, while also expanding its presence inside high schools such as South San, Harlandale, and, soon, Edgewood.
All this happened while donation totals took a 10% hit from the fall through the holidays.
Rise Recovery was slated to bring in author and recovering addict Anne Lamott to speak at its big fundraising luncheon, but that was canceled. In March, the organization will host Lamott in a virtual setting, and hopes to raise money that way.
Before the pandemic, Rise Recovery completed a capital campaign for the Charlie Naylor Recovery Campus on the northwest side, a standalone campus for family and youth set to open by the end of 2021. It’s also become a partner in the 210-SAY-CARE helpline, along with Alpha Home, Lifetime Recovery, and Pay It Forward, for Bexar County residents.
“I feel really good about the organization,” Morin said. “Our whole entire organization is built and run by people in recovery … I have an incredibly strong, resilient team that knows how to get through an emergency and crisis. It has been incredible to watch them adapt and respond.”
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