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Angie Wieck, Published March 20 2014

Making a Mark: Kris Carlson

Making a Mark is a regular feature in The Forum’s Business section that profiles someone excelling within the workplace or community. To nominate a candidate, email businessnews@forumcomm.com

Name: Kris Carlson

Nonprofit: designing 4 recovery

Her story: Kris Carlson knew little about sober living facilities when it was recommended her son move into one following his treatment for addiction, so she decided to take a tour. What she found were wonderful people, but depressing living conditions.

“They were just horrid and dirty. The furniture was dilapidated. If someone was recovering from cancer or any other disease, we wouldn’t tell them to go live there, work on their disease and feel good about it. We just wouldn’t say that. Why we think it’s OK for addiction escapes me,” she said.

The interior designer and partner at Designing Women 2 in Fargo was inspired to provide a healing environment for those in recovery, so she established the nonprofit designing 4 recovery in 2010.

What is a sober house? A sober house is where an addict may choose to live following treatment or after staying in a halfway house. Residents are required to have a sponsor, attend regular AA meetings as well as a weekly house meeting. They pay rent and live independently.

While Fargo-Moorhead has treatment facilities and court-mandated halfway houses, Carlson said there are no sober houses in our area.

The 24 sober houses designing 4 recovery has rehabilitated so far have been in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

“Even though it’s not in Fargo, there are Fargo people who go to Minneapolis to live in sober houses because we don’t have them here,” Carlson said. “In a lot of places we have done, there has been a benefit for the people of this area.”

How it works: At least 60 percent of the residents must commit to paint with a volunteer group. Together, they paint the entire house’s interior in what usually takes about two visits.

On the second visit, designing 4 recovery supplies the living room with new furniture.

The project is also a way for residents who may have had previous issues with the court to complete community service hours.

Carlson said one of the goals is to train people who want to learn the skill of painting and do it as a profession. Eventually, they would like to form a D4R painting crew that paints for profit.

How to help: To donate or learn more, visit www.designing4recovery.com or call (701) 793-3353.

Quote: “The value of helping those in recovery live in a healing environment, for anybody that is hurting because of a loved one’s addiction, I highly encourage them to join us,” Carlson said. “When you’re touched very closely by it, the best way to help yourself is to help others.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501