Founded in 2016, Paul Bierch and Carolyn Niesche made the choice to take their personal experiences with recovery and provide wisdom and lessons for others struggling with substance use disorder in Minneapolis. Their collective experience include imprisonment, lost relationships, and poverty – both financial and spiritual.
Prior to co-founding Will Work for Recovery, Ms. Niesche was a small business owner in Eden Prairie, Minnesota in the early stages of recovery. She began volunteering with the Shakopee Women’s Prison, providing mentoring and support through a women’s empowerment group. For over 20 years, she voluntarily worked one-on-one with women in the prison and state correctional systems, shedding light on the skills these women had developed through their lived experiences. The women she worked with had survived independently, building skills in entrepreneurship and negotiation along the way. They hadn’t necessarily understood how transferable these life skills were, and Ms. Niesche worked with them to develop a positive path outside of prison and out of the state's correctional systems.
Through her own experience in recovery and her decades of experience working with incarcerated women, Ms. Niesche knew that for recovery to be successful for more populations, a peer-to-peer model must be established in the community. Together, with Paul Bierch, they developed Will Work for Recovery, a recovery community organization that focuses on creating a positive and authentic community. Their vision included an atmosphere that responds to the needs of the community through supportive services, and is inviting, warm, and eclectic. In the beginning days, making home cooked meals for participants allowed Ms. Niesche and Mr. Bierch to begin building trusting relationships with individuals in recovery. The approach of Will Work for Recovery is to meet individuals where they are in life, develop an individualized plan to reach their goals, and maintain sobriety while positively contributing to society.