Good News Recovery House in Backus provides aid to those in recovery

This church organized program provides guidance for those who need help to live a normal life.

Good News Recovery House.JPG
In April of 2022 the Good News Recovery House in Backus was home to two women getting help with their issues.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

BACKUS — Sometimes people recovering from addiction need guidance to succeed. That's the lesson Lanaya Percifeld-Tilbury learned from her own personal experience.

"There's a lot of compassion and understanding and patience there. They want to help."
Anonymous recovery house resident

In 2017, she was offered the chance to go to prison or something called "drug court" where she would be given leniency and be allowed to stay out of prison, with conditions.

"They said I needed to have a job. I needed a place to live and I needed to not be around Pine River," Percifeld-Tilbury said. "I had to relocate. I didn't have any registry and even my job history was very scattered. For most of the people in recovery, that's how life is. It's really hard to find a place to go."

It's difficult for recovering addicts to find a home at all. The state has been experiencing a shortage of low-cost housing for years, and these women are coming out of treatment with records that could disqualify them from some homes.

"It's transitional, but it's also teaching them what life really looks like not being behind locked doors and not being in a facility. Just life as we know it. To them they don't know that."
Blair Ecker

As she made strides, living in a trailer house in Brainerd, she said other people she knew in treatment needed a place to live, so she opened her doors so they would have a place to live while getting better.


That's how it all started. Since 2018, Percifeld-Tilbury has been hosting recovering addicts and mentoring them so they can succeed where others do not.

"I think a lot of it is having a safe, sober place to go," Percifeld-Tilbury said. "A lot of people go to treatment and their parents allow them to come back to their house when they are finished with treatment. But what happens is there have been so many years of enabling that it just continues."

Providing a home allows recovering addicts to get out of the environment that led to their arrest in the first place, possibly increasing their chance of success. In addition, living with others who understand and empathize with their difficulties can put them in a position to learn valuable life skills they have been lacking.

"A lot of people don't know how to even apply for a job or where to look and that there's resources out there to help," Percifeld-Tilbury said. "A lot of drug users in our area start off very young, or they've been doing it a long time, so they don't know what a normal life looks like."

Guidance and support can sometimes be the missing key to full recovery. That's why Percifeld-Tilbury approached her pastor at Pine Mountain Gospel Church in Backus with the idea of finding a place to host women who are looking for a community that can help them succeed in their recovery journey.

"When you come out of all these cycles and come out of treatment you're sober," Pine Mountain Gospel outreach treasurer/secretary Natasha Puffe said. "You've been sober for a year, sometimes two, sometimes eight months. Then where do you go? Right back to the lifestyle that's all you know."

"It's transitional, but it's also teaching them what life really looks like not being behind locked doors and not being in a facility," Pastor Blair Ecker said. "Just life as we know it. To them, they don't know that."

The church formed a committee and gathered donations to rent rooms in the second oldest house in Backus, located right next door to the Bailey house. They called it the Good News Recovery House. Percifeld-Tilbury is president of the committee. Since the beginning of March, they have had two women living in the house.


These residents participate in any court-ordered requirements, attend meetings and participate in the program's mentorship program, led by Percifeld-Tilbury and women who succeeded in kicking their own habits with her help.

"She just had a vision in her head and found this church body that was willing to support it and carry it through," said Ecker, the committee's vice president.

The mentorship program can include help in getting a safe vehicle with insurance, finding a suitable job and more.

"We do a couple of recovery meetings a week and they come to our church as well," Percifeld-Tilbury said. "We just guide them and support them and it's kind of like a sponsorship and a mentorship all in one. The women are encouraged to find employment and do their aftercare recommendations."

This program is uncommon for several reasons. For one, it may be the only women-centric program like it in the area.

"There's not that black hole for men," Ecker said. "There are halfway houses and sober houses throughout Brainerd. Teen Challenge is mostly male oriented. They are structured for men, but there was no structure locally for women. That's what led us to come together and do this."

Ecker and Puffe were careful to point out that the program is not a halfway house, rehab or facility of any kind.

"We are just a short-term home where women can come to stay after they come out of treatment," Puffe said. "We mentor them and help them find long-term, safe, sober living."


Percifeld-Tilbury found the current residents, but in the future they might get recommendations from the county or court system.

One resident agreed to talk about her experience on condition of anonymity.

"There are halfway houses all over the place where you can get into them and start a job and get your life started there," she said. "Then you have to start all over again when you get home."

She said the house allows her to meet all of the requirements of her release without having to stress about where she will live and other big challenges. The WiFi alone helps her to have a private place for daily outpatient treatments, which she used to do in the public laundromat.

"There's requirements," the resident said. "You have to be in compliance with court stuff and probation and in mental health programs. There's a requirement to attend recovery meetings and, since it's funded through the church, you can go to whatever church you want to on Sundays, but they ask that you go to their church at least once to meet the people on the board that are paying for the place, which makes sense to me."

With it being a small house, they also aren't exposed to a lot of people coming and going. Those who do come and go are people who are supporting them in their progress.

This resident has been able to find a job and help with reliable transportation through carpooling. The committee is also trying to help find an affordable vehicle for her, and provide financing that she can pay back.

The program has made support meetings especially helpful, as once a week one of them is held right in the Good News Recovery House. Another is held at the church.


"There's a lot of compassion and understanding and patience there," the resident said. "They want to help."

The Good News Recovery House has space for four to six residents. Like most volunteer programs, the Good News Recovery House can use more volunteers and more donations.

"We're just volunteers and it's kind of a lot, but it's rewarding," Percifeld-Tilbury said. "Hopefully in the future as it continues to grow we would have more volunteers."

"We are run all on donations and all volunteers," Ecker said. "It's run through the church. Nobody makes any money. There's no payroll."

With suggestions from treatment centers, the committee would like to expand the program and possibly have a house for men.

"We're talking to Doug (Taylor) about leasing the Bailey house and doing the same for men," Ecker said.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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