MAKING AN IMPACT: Albert Lea nonprofit provides sense of purpose, belonging

Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 2:51 AM CDT
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ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) – Everyone, no matter age, gender, or physical or mental ability, deserves to feel welcome, valued, respected and supported.

That’s the goal of one nonprofit organization in Albert Lea.

Maria Schoepf has been a member of the LIFE Center of Freeborn County for several months.

The nonprofit works to empower people of all abilities, deliver programs that expand opportunities and enrich lives while having fun.

“I feel accepted when I come here.”

Maria Schoepf, Member, LIFE Center of Freeborn County

Here, Schoepf and up to 200 other members have a space to be creative and be themselves without judgement.

“You get to be involved in crafts and sign up for things for the newsletter that comes out, and you also can sign up for virtual events,” Schoepf said.

But the fun doesn’t only live within these walls.

“It is important to get the members associated with the community, get them intertwined,” Carmen McColley, Recreational Supervisor with the LIFE Center said. “We use resources outside of the community to do that like the legion, the VFW, the Eagles, and churches around town.”

Activities like bowling, dances, holiday gatherings, and a polar plunge shows that this inclusive nonprofit has something for everyone.

McColley added, “We engage with the members and keep them vigilant and keep them growing.”

Individuals, families, and businesses can pledge to be LIFE Center members for a small annual fee. This is what helps keep the doors open.

“It makes me feel happy and I get to meet new people,” Schoepf said.

In a world where it can be hard to feel accepted and connect with others, especially after the pandemic, the LIFE Center is working to break those barriers.

The organization cannot continue providing services without the community’s help.

The LIFE Center is hosting a Halloween Dance fundraiser on Monday, Oct. 31, from 6-8 p.m. at the Eagles Club off West William Street in Albert Lea.

It’s a costume party with prizes for first, second and third place.

Anyone is welcome. It’s $5 for members and $6 for non-members.

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