Ryan Donovan grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where he lived with his five siblings and their mother. He started using substances and running away from home at nine years old. When describing his childhood, Ryan says, “there was just a hole in me where I wanted to grow up too quick and I ran with older people.” Ryan spent time most of his preteen years and adolescence in and out of juvenile centers and was on probation for six years. As an adult, he served eight years in jails and prisons, and he earned his GED while he was in prison.
Due to his addiction, Ryan continued to have periodic encounters with the law. He realized he needed to get help for his substance use disorder when it was starting to negatively impact the relationships in his life with his friends and family. He went through a month-long rehabilitation program in 2016 and later on attended an out-patient program at the Salvation Army Adult Recovery Center (ARC) in Davenport, Iowa, and then transferred to the Salvation Army ARC in Kansas City, Missouri. Ryan later decided to switch programs and go to the Maple Street House in Independence, Missouri and found success with the program.
In January of 2019, he met his wife, Crystal, through mutual friends on Facebook. They became friends and started going to church together. In March of that year, Ryan had a recurrence of substance use. Crystal let Ryan stay with her while he was detoxing. March 24th, 2019 is Ryan’s sobriety date, as well as the day he and Crystal started dating. They married in October 2019 and had their first child in February 2020. Unfortunately, their child was diagnosed with Bilateral Renal Agenesis, a disease in which an infant is born without their kidneys, and passed away. Ryan says that he was “mad at God” for a short period, but ultimately it “brought [him] closer to God.” Ryan’s boss also passed away around the same time, and he was struggling to find a job. He became involved with Benilde Hall through his wife, Crystal, who works as the Administrative Assistant. In April 2020, Ryan became a night monitor at Benilde Hall.
For Ryan, his faith in God, the 12-Step program he attends, and his wife Crystal have helped him significantly in his recovery journey. Working at Benilde Hall and getting to know the clients has also been beneficial for Ryan. Ryan says that talking to the clients at Benilde Hall “keeps me sober more than they think.” Ryan advises people in recovery to “never give up” and says that “there is a better life.” Ryan will be celebrating two years of sobriety in March 2021.