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Living up to potential

Mark Foss is the director and founder of the LifeRight Outreach center in Alexandria. LifeRight is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with an event Thursday, Feb. 9 at Arrowwood Resort and Conferencce Center in Alexandria. (Celeste Edenloff | Echo Press)1 / 2
When they are not working, in class or doing chores, LifeRight Outreach residents (left to right) Max Bauer, 29, of Graceville; Ryan Kellenberger, 40, of Hancock; and Joshua Winslow, 29, of Ashby use their free time to play a game of pool. (Celeste Edenloff | Echo Press)2 / 2

Looking back over the last 10 years, Mark Foss is beyond grateful and thankful for the support from the community not only LifeRight Outreach has received, but that he has received.

A former drug dealer and addict who spent plenty of time in prison, Foss can't believe how his life, as well as the lives of others in need, have been helped and supported by the community through the LifeRight Outreach program, which he founded.

LifeRight Outreach, a Christ-centered non-profit transitional housing program for recovering drug, alcohol and gambling addicts, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. LifeRight offers housing, along with programs, to help both men and women rebuild better lives.

An event "Celebrating 10 years of sharing God's love through family, work and community," is set for Thursday, Feb. 9 at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria. A silent auction will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the dinner and program set to start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, which are $30, can be reserved by calling Angie at (320) 759-3930.

LifeRight originally started in the basement of a church and Foss said it was a way to help men, offer them support, to continually live a drug and alcohol free life.

Now, LifeRight not only offers the support and help needed, it offers a four-month program that includes housing for men and women. The LifeRight Outreach center for men can house up to 10 residents at one time. Three years ago, LifeRight expanded and now has housing — in a separate building — for up to eight women. Foss's wife, Nikol, runs the LifeRight Outreach program for women.

The average length of stay for most guests, as Foss refers to them, is four months. Although, he said, some guests have stayed longer because they have needed it.

"We don't really have a cut-off time," Foss said. "As long as they are moving forward, they can stay."

While in the program, Foss said the guests take part in biblical teachings, classes for finance and anger management or other related topics, as well as help out with chores and maintenance around the house. Guests also have a curfew they have to adhere to, he said.

"While they are here, we want to help them overcome emotions that might destroy the life they want to lead. We want them to take the necessary steps to freedom with Christ by their side," Foss said.

Currently, LifeRight employs five full-time employees and also has dozens of volunteers, said Foss, which wasn't the case five years ago. There wasn't any full-time paid staff, he said, which included himself.

"It was just me and I relied on a house manager," he said. "I didn't have a salary and worked doing construction to finance everything. But all that changed about five years ago. Now, we have full-time staff who get paid and I get a salary."

One thing Foss stressed is that LifeRight does not take sex offenders and that all guests staying there are addicts, mostly chemical dependency, but some have gambling addictions.

Over the course of the next 10 years, Foss hopes to help even more people — both men and women — because there is definitely a need for it. One of his goals is to create partnerships with landlords in town to offer more housing opportunities.

"If there's not a place for them to go, they'll end up right back where they came from and we don't want that," Foss said. "The whole idea is for them to succeed. We want them to have all their ducks in a row. We do have to sometimes walk a thin line of compassion and tough love, but all addicts have to be given the chance to change."

For more information about LifeRight, visit its website at www.liferightoutreach.org.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

(320) 763-1242
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