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One of the biggest success stories in Cape Girardeau is Teen Challenge International of Mid-America. Located in the rolling hills north of town, Teen Challenge for 37 years has dealt with the alcohol and drug addictions of more than 5,000 men -- 3,700 have successfully completed the Christian-based program.
Most area residents know generally what Teen Challenge is and does. They know about the strawberry sales at the stand on Independence Street every spring. Long lines wait to buy heaping containers of fresh-picked fruit from the Teen Challenge fields. And residents know of the lawn services provided to homeowners and businesses by teams of Teen Challenge participants. Hard work and structure are an essential part of the overall program. The berries and the lawn work also generate revenue used to pay for the program's operating expenses.
Teen Challenge is a frugal operation. Nothing about it is extravagant. Facilities at the rural complex are basic, to say the least. In 2005, the not-for-profit organization announced an ambitious fund-raising effort for much-needed building projects. Construction costs pushed the total needed to $2.3 million from the original estimate of $1.8 million.
Generous supporters of Teen Challenge have made pledges that will pay the entire amount -- provided the promised contributions are actually made. Teen Challenge could use some of that money now.
Recently, Teen Challenge had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the education center. Next March, the organization will also have ceremonies celebrating the opening of the new recreation center and dormitory. The new facilities significantly enhance the organization's ability to fulfill its mission. Teen Challenge and its many supporters are to be congratulated for a job well done.