Unique substance recovery house comes to mid-Missouri

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RANDOLPH COUNTY - A drug and alcohol recovery program for women has found a new place to call home in mid-Missouri.

Teen Challenge, a program that started in 1958 in New York that now has 12,000 houses globally, is not just for teens but for all ages.

The program was originally focused on gang members in New York City. "The Cross and the Switchblade" is a best selling book and movie about the start of Teen Challenge. Because the book and movie have given the name a good reputation, it stuck, despite the shift in focus.

The faith-based non-profit recovery program includes 12 months in a Teen Challenge home taking classes, receiving counseling, and working together with the other residents. Teen Challenge has 250 houses in the country and eight in Missouri, but the house being built near Clark will be part of a new model.

There are only four total Teen Challenge houses that allow children to move in with their mothers. The central Missouri house will be the fifth.

"Historically for women, it is even harder for them to access help when they get into a substance abuse state," Project Development Director Rick Rowden said. "This allows a huge obstacle to be removed that is a hindrance for them for finding help, you know, 'How can I leave my children?'" 

Rowden said there is a demand in the area for this sort of service and Teen Challenge has a 70 - 85 percent success rate.

The federal government estimates there are 5,000 or more homes in Boone, Callaway and Cole counties where children are living with a mother involved in substance abuse. 

The project became a reality in late June after Teen Challenge's executive director found a listing for a 5,700-square-foot home in Randolph County on 43.5 acres of land. The home was originally built by a big family then sold to a couple who planned to turn it into a safe house for victims of human trafficking. When that did not work out, it landed in the hands of Teen Challenge.

"We feel this is divinely orchestrated by God and he put together the right people at the right time for the right purpose," Rowden said. "There was a path that led us to this place. Even though it's been extremely rocky getting here, when I first drove up the lane and I looked at this house, I said, 'This is home.'"

Every Teen Challenge location funds its programs in unique ways that work for its community. Teen Challenge of Central Missouri hopes to come up with a micro enterprise business so the program can become self-sustainable. A member of the Advisory Committee, Heidi Fuhrman, said adding a business is an important aspect to the program. 

"This is a place that can serve as a safe haven where people can come and deal with the stuff that has tripped them up in the past, while also giving them an excitement and a hope for what is to come and what the future can hold," Fuhrman said "That happens in some of the work that will be at the heart level, but also some of the things that they will be able to be a part of with community involvement and this micro enterprise component as well." 

Teen Challenge of Central Missouri has not yet decided what kind of business it will have, but says it might utilize the excess land for the micro enterprise. 

For now, funds are coming from donations. Clothes, blankets, furniture, and more have already been donated. The next auction gala will be on Thursday, September 11 at the Peachtree Banquet Center in Columbia. There is also a place to donate on the Teen Challenge of Central Missouri website

On Tuesday, a post on the group's Facebook page asked for a company to clean and stretch the carpets at the Teen Challenge house, promising to provide a tax receipt that would help with year-end taxes.

The home hopes to have everything finished and start receiving students by October 1.