By LINDA MESSMER
A very successful anti-addiction program will soon be opening a residential Crisis Center in Terre Haute. Called Teen Challenge, the name is a little misleading as the Wabash Valley facility is for anyone 18 years of age or older.
The name came from founder Pastor David Wilkerson, who initially started the program for troubled teens. A ministry of the Assembly of God Church, the Terre Haute based outreach program is directed by Pastor David Trout.
Initially the Terre Haute facility will be a temporary 30 day in-house screening program. Participants will then be sent to a Teen Challenge facility elsewhere to complete the full one year agenda. The Terre Haute branch hopes to expand as soon as possible to offer the entire program.
During the 12-month schedule, the men and women involved do not hold a job. There is a very structured routine.
Mandatory classes deal with anger, temptation and relationships with those of authority. Denominational faith is not taught but basic Christian doctrine is. And chapel attendance is required. During the advanced training stage, participants can get their GED.
To house the Terre Haute program The Teen Challenge of the Wabash Valley bought an old duplex building at 1340 Chestnut for $1 from the City of Terre Haute Redevelopment Dept.
"I was told the building had been used as a crack house for the past 10 years," Trout said. "The neighborhood has had lots of problems with drugs, gang related activity and prostitution. I think our being here will improve the neighborhood."
A lot of work is still required to finish remodeling the building, however. More funding is needed.
"We receive no government or insurance money," Trout explained. "We hope to reach out to the Christian Church as a whole to support the project. Of course, we take secular money. We get donations from businesses and corporations. Most of our dollars come from individuals.
Trout has met with the Building Trades Program Council. He thinks they will get a lot of volunteer support from the apprenticeship programs. The money is needed mostly to buy materials. Trout anticipates that the project could be completed in three months if they had the material, which he estimates will cost about $20,000.
Teen Challenge works. According to the Wall Street Journal, "A Health and Human Services review panelist found Teen Challenge to be the best of 300 anti-addiction programs examined, and the least expensive." The latest stats available in 2000, showed Teen Challenge with a 75 to 86 per cent success rate after five years.
"The goal of Teen Challenge is to be multi-denominational or non-denominational," explained Trout.
"People needing help do not have to belong to a church to enter this program. They don't even have to be Christian."
The main geographic focus for Teen Challenge of the Wabash Valley will be Vigo, Clay, Parke, Vermillion and Sullivan counties in Indiana and Clark County, Ill. But the total area of coverage will not be limited to the Wabash Valley.
Participants may come to the program voluntarily or by court order. Trout is trying to talk with the various county prosecutors about putting convicted drug addicts into the Teen Challenge program rather than jail.
"Jail time is not an answer for drug addiction," Trout said. "And this could help with the jail overcrowding problem."
"We believe that Jesus is the answer to the drug epidemic," Trout said. "If you're bound by drugs, if you need help, we have a cure. If you really want to change your life, there's hope. Call us."
A referral office is now available in Terre Haute with Pastor Trout as director. Anyone needing help or wanting to make donations may call Teen Challenge of the Wabash Valley at 812-466-0571 or contact Trout through the web site at teenchallenge.com.