February 19, 2021 Wendy Jones

MRC Recovery Spotlight: Kiwanis Vilella

“I consider myself a resource broker and an advocate. I give people the tools to change their life.”

Minnesota Recovery Connection is a Recovery Community Organization –  a grassroots nonprofit whose staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors are all people in personal or family recovery or are community allies. We are dedicated to strengthening the recovery community and are proud to share our stories. This month, we’re spotlighting staff member Kiwanis Vilella, one of our Certified Peer Recovery Specialists.

Kiwanis Vilella, also known as Que, is one of many new faces around MRC who are expanding our peer recovery outreach. Que is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and has been giving back to his community, working in the recovery field, for over 10 years!

Originally from Chicago, Que moved to the Twin Cities after he entered into recovery and lives here with his two sons. “My kids are definitely my biggest motivation to stay sober,” he said. “They need that father figure in their life. I have seen how kids have been hurt with absent dads, and I never want to be that, so staying sober allows me to be that rock for them.”

Que’s first job in the recovery community involved working with teens/young adults in Chicago to help them stay away from substances. He said that growing up, he saw the issue of broken families and absent fathers first hand and how those factors can lead to substance abuse and harmful behaviors. Through that work, he was able to connect with teenagers at a vulnerable time in their life and support them. Que’s most recent job was in a treatment facility, where he said he enjoyed his job, but that he couldn’t connect with his participants as well as he can at MRC due to strict rules of engagement. “Working at MRC has allowed me to use my talents in a way I was never able to fully in my other jobs at treatment centers,” he said. “I am able to connect with my participants in a close, personal way and get to know who they are deep down.”

One of Que’s goals at MRC and in his personal life is to bring awareness to the struggles of single fathers. Being a single dad himself, he finds much of his motivation and purpose in his two sons. But he’s open about the fact that some days raising them alone is really challenging and made even more difficult given the lack of resources available for men like him. 

On a normal day, Que will either talk to or meet with up with 5-6 participants. Que refers to himself as a “resource broker” in the sense that he provides knowledge, connections, and skills to his participants so that they can change their life. He also considers himself an advocate, role model, and truth teller. Building relationships with his participants is the most important part of his job and also what he finds most personally fulfilling and rewarding.

Que can be reached at kiwanis.vilella@minnesotarecovery.org.

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