Second Chances: ‘I needed something more’

Lanaya Percifield-Tilbury continues her sobriety journey through helping others in the Backus area.

Lanaya Percifield-Tilbury
Lanaya Percifield-Tilbury has nearly six years of sobriety after struggling with addiction for 23 years. She now volunteers at a women's sober home in Backus and works full time at Clow Stamping.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

NISSWA — After 23 years of addiction, Lanaya Percifield-Tilbury now uses her six years of sobriety to help others get there, too.

The Backus woman discovered methamphetamine at age 16, which spiraled into alcohol use and legal trouble. Time spent in juvenile detention, jail, prison and treatment centers didn’t seem to help.

Nothing quite stuck until Percifield-Tilbury entered Crow Wing County Drug Court in 2017. The program handles cases involving non-violent drug users through intensive judicial supervision, case management and treatment, providing sanctions and incentives for participants.

“My understanding of drug court was that if I didn’t have a job, and I wasn’t going to my treatment, wasn’t doing my meetings, that I would go back to jail, and that was not what I wanted,” Percifield-Tilbury said during an interview Thursday, April 13, at Stonehouse Coffee in Nisswa.

Something finally clicked, and she realized she wanted more out of life.


“I needed something more,” she said. “And drug court gave me the ability to stay sober long enough so that I could learn and build a life that I didn’t want to lose.”

That life now includes husband, Stanley Tilbury, a 4-year-old and a women’s sober home she helps run.

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Good News Recovery House is an outreach of Pine Mountain Gospel Church in Backus. Percifield-Tilbury and her husband helped start the home, which currently has five residents. The facility gives the women somewhere to go after treatment so they don’t fall back into old patterns at home, and volunteers offer resources Percifield-Tilbury wished she had when trying to get sober herself.

“If you have somebody looking after you, showing you that they care, someplace to be somewhere to go, your chances of staying sober are a lot better,” she said, knowing the odds of continued sobriety are not great to start with.

But the house seems to be working.

“A lot of the ladies who have come to us have gotten their driver's license and vehicles and got back on track that way,” she said. “… We’re planting seeds, getting them back on their feet. And after they leave, that’s kind of up to them, but we always are there to support them.”

And supporting the women helps Percifield-Tilbury with her own sobriety, too.

“Helping other people is what I have to do,” she said. “... It’s just what I do to give back.”


And the sober home residents give back as well, through activities like handing out food to those in need. That volunteerism helps not only them but their whole community.

“Our church in our community is really working on building back what’s been lost over the last decade to just people getting older and then drug addictions and things like that,” she said. “… For a long time, our town was a very sad place, and now it’s starting to be a place where people want to be.”

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Working with the women in the sober home takes up much of Percifield-Tilbury’s weekdays, while her weekends are spent working at Clow Stamping. The company, she said, is big on giving people second chances.

“I actually have been very blessed in my life with the people that have been able to help me even though I was the odd one; I was the black sheep. And I just have a lot of people in my family and friends that have helped me get to where I’m at,” she said, specifically mentioning her husband, her fellow sober home volunteers and Pine Mountain Gospel Pastor Blair Ecker as some of the most helpful.

The church in general, she said, has given her the confidence she lacked and the realization she deserved a chance to change.

“Big things happen when you stop and you let other people in,” she said.

Big things like starting up weekly recovery meetings in Backus and earning peer support specialist certification to be able to help people on an even larger scale.

She hopes the future might hold even bigger things, too, like a men’s sober house in Backus.


“If that’s what falls on our plate, that’s what we’ll do,” she said.

For now, she and the other volunteers at Good News Recovery House refer men to other resources in the lakes area, which has proven to offer a strong recovery community for those in need.

But taking that first step is the key.

“Go to treatment,” Percifield-Tilbury said as her advice to those in addiction. “That way you don’t have to detox and stuff at home or around people that are using. Go to detox, get to meetings, get a sponsor.”

And then big things can happen.

April is Second Chance Month

April is known as Second Chance Month , both nationally and in Minnesota, reaffirming the importance of helping those with criminal backgrounds re-enter society and have a second chance at a better life after paying their debts.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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