“Opening Doors To Help With Addiction Through Adult & Teen Challenge” Benefit Dinner

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Melissa Drye sits at a table in front of event flyers and pictures of decorations. The benefit dinner for Adult & Teen Challenge won’t take place for a couple more months, but all the details are in place, down to the centerpieces for the table. The flyer says, “Please join us for a wonderful evening of fellowship as we strive to heighten awareness about the rising and serious issue of drug abuse in our community among both teens and adults.” Preparation for the event has been going on for a few months, but Melissa has been walking through the experience of addiction with her son for years.

Opening Doors to help with addiction through Adult & Teen Challenge.

According to Jenn Joiner, Marketing Coordinator with Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge, “Sandhills Adult & Teen Challenge and Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge are non-profit rehabilitation centers that are committed to helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction.” Their continuum of care includes a Medical Detox at their Pennsylvania Campus, a 30 day State -Licensed Short-Term Program at their Pennsylvania Campuses, and a 12-14 month Faith-Based Long-Term Program in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Adult & Teen Challenge began in 1958 when Rev. David Wilkerson, the pastor of a small church in rural Philipsburg, PA traveled to New York City to intercede in a court case for six gang members. Initially, his trip seemed like a failure, because he was tossed out of the courtroom and not permitted to speak to the young men.

However, his expulsion from the courtroom actually laid the groundwork for future events. Jenn said, “Believing the police were against both the gang members and Rev. Wilkerson, the gangs came to see him as an ally, not an enemy. This turn of events created an opportunity for him to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and see men and women experienced something life altering. Momentary change, however, is not always enough for permanent life change. It was not enough for someone just to ‘find God,’ they need to grow in that new found relationship with God. That is where permanent life change was going to be found, in a relationship with God. Out of this series of events, Teen Challenge was birthed into a ministry that reaches out to gangs and individuals trapped in an addictive lifestyle.”

From there, Teen Challenge grew. In 1961 a new phase was planned that focused on training the men in Biblical truth as well as life and work skills. And the program wanted to make sure that there was not just lifestyle change, but for a season there was geographical change as well. In June of 1962, a Pennsylvania farmer offered to sell Rev. Wilkerson a farm with 16 acres of land. Jenn said, “To this day, that farm, known to many as “God’s Mountain” is the location of our Rehrersburg Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge Campus.”

God’s Mountain is the is the location of the Rehrersburg Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge Campus.

Melissa said, “I am encouraging the community and church to get involved because Heroin addiction has become an epidemic, among others. This is an affordable, long term, 14-month program that is able to continue because of church and community involvement and donations.” To raise funds, Melissa is organizing a dinner that includes music, and a talk by guest speaker Rev. Joel Jakubowski, MA, CRS, CIP, CADC, Chief Clinical Officer of Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge.

For $15, event goers will receive a salad, grilled chicken, baked potato, roll, dessert and beverage. Music will be provided by Southbrook Church worship team. Guest speaker Rev. Jakubowski is an Adult & Teen Challenge graduate who went into the program in his 30s, graduated, then went back to college. He received his degree in counseling and is now the Chief Clinical Officer. There will also be a testimony from another previous graduate.

Dinner will be salad, grilled chicken, baked potato, a roll, dessert, and tea.

Awareness is one of the biggest reasons Melissa decided to do this fundraiser. She said, “In attending many Heroin and Opioid Summits that have been popping up in the local community I became very aware that too many people had no idea this program was available.” She went on to explain that in January, Teen Challenge Training Center changed their name to Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge and Sandhills Adult & Teen Challenge. “The average age coming into the men’s program is 37, and they felt it would be a less confusing title and much more helpful to families to find help. Teen Challenge USA offers programs for teens, 12 and over, as well as adult programs for men and women. Teen Challenge is a global organization,” she said.

Melissa Drye is organizing the Adult & Teen Challenge Benefit Dinner.

According to Jenn, Adult & Teen Challenge offers a full continuum of care, starting at the moment of crisis. Their continuum of care includes a medical detox, a short-term state licensed program and a long-term faith-based program. They offer care and training to the individual struggling with an addiction, as well as the families. They’ve found that addiction is not an individual issue, but a family affliction. And it can take at least 12 months for the brain to reverse the effects of addiction.

Melissa wanted to thank Southbrook Church for allowing Adult & Teen Challenge to tell about this great program. She also mentioned that several men of Shiloh Baptist Church, lead by Chris Salter, were donating their time for grilling the chicken. Joy Bakery and Catering is preparing the rest of the meal. A friend, Ben Scarlett, donated a large portion of his time to make a DVD testimony that will be shared during the evening. Melissa said she also appreciates the prayer and support from friends who have walked this journey with her, her church, and her Bible study class.

Friends have helped Melissa plan the decorations and details of the fundraiser.

Melissa has seen people die and has seen families torn apart. From personal experience with her son, she found that short-term programs are good, but they are just stepping stones. Melissa said, “One thing I would tell a parent is, when you start this journey, make a journal.” The journey away from addiction is often a much longer road than people expect.

Melissa hopes to have at least 250 attend the benefit dinner to reach her fundraising goals. The event will be held on Friday, August 25th, at 6:30 pm at Southbrook Church, 5607 Monroe-Weddington Road, Weddington. For more information, email openingdoors7101@yahoo.com

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Annie Beth Donahue lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina with her husband Brad, and four children. She is a professional writer for both the web and print, and she can be found at www.anniebethdonahue.com.

Annie Beth also has a bachelor's degree in music therapy from Queens University of Charlotte, and has either been working with or parenting children with special needs for the past 18 years. She is a children's book author and the founder and president of Signposts Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves families that have children with chronic health problems or disabilities. In her non-working time, she homeschools and oversees the children's care of their small menagerie made up of chickens, two donkeys, a dog, a cat, and a snake.