Adult and Teen Challenge expanding facility, program capacity thanks to 'big time' support from community

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
John McCollum vacuums the classroom Friday for the temporary Phase 1 facility of Adult and Teen Challenge of Mid-America at its campus north of Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

In response to a growing problem, Adult and Teen Challenge Mid-America has a solution.

After months of overcrowding at other Adult and Teen Challenge facilities in areas such as St. Louis; Hot Springs, Arkansas; and Cleveland, executive director James Bolin said it was time to create more space.

On its Cape Girardeau-based campus, Bolin said the organization created a 25-bed, temporary facility to house the number of incoming addicts who need a place to go. And that need is something Bolin said has to be addressed immediately.

“Usually, when an addict is ready to make this change, you gotta grab them then,” Bolin said. “You gotta have a space right then or you won’t get them back.”

The temporary facility will accommodate an important and rising need, Bolin said. But Mid-America won’t stop there. Construction on a new induction facility will be underway beginning early this year, Bolin said.

The entrance to Adult and Teen Challenge of Mid-America is seen Friday north of Cape Girardeau.
Fred Lynch

The new center will almost double the available space for induction from 25 to 48 beds, Bolin said. It also will have offices, additional housing for two staff apartments, a laundry room and a common area.

“Before, we never had one in Cape, but due to the overcrowding in our home centers, we decided to build a home center here in Cape Girardeau,” Bolin said. “The drug addiction is touching everybody now.”

While construction of the new facility will begin immediately, Bolin said the organization is in the middle of an expansion campaign to raise the rest of the necessary funding for the center. Mid-America has reached about $350,000 of its $500,000 goal.

Much of the fundraising, Bolin said, was done through the organization’s choir, as well as through churches and donor letters.

Those able to use the new facility will be newly inducted members to the program. Bolin said the process of induction starts with a phone call and includes an application and an interview with the addict before being admitted to the program.

The temporary Phase 1 facility of Adult and Teen Challenge of Mid-America is in the lower level of the chapel, left, across from the prayer tower, as seen Friday.
Fred Lynch

The Adult and Teen Challenge program is built into 14 months, with the first four spent in a home or induction center for “Phase 1.”

After “graduating” from that, Bolin said, the addict will move to “Phase 2,” where an average of 170 men spend 10 months living in an on-campus dormitory-style housing unit. He added the members never leave campus except for program-related trips or approved family visits.

Because the program is court-ordered for many of the addicts who come through, Bolin said the organization holds a big graduation ceremony for those who complete it. He added it’s also a night for friends and family to celebrate the accomplishment of their loved one.

“It’s a big night,” Bolin said.

And while it may seem surprising, Bolin said members of Mid-America only pay a one-time fee of $495 for the application process. After that, he added, they never pay another fee for their 14 months in the program.

That low cost is made possible through the generosity of the community, Bolin said. Half of the donations come from donors and the other half from the work program, be it the Teen Challenge Thrift Store, lawn service or car wash.

“Without the donors, churches and business, there would be no Teen Challenge. They’re saving lives,” Bolin said. “Cape Girardeau and the surrounding community, they support us big time.”

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