Peggy Kiefer

Grove Sun

Teen Challenge of Oklahoma Adolescent Centers is hosting their Second Annual “Moving Forward” Adolescent Programs Banquet at the New LifeHouse Girls Home in Disney on Friday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. The banquet is planned in an effort to raise scholarship funds for both the New LifeHouse Girls Home and Brush Creek Boy’s Youth Ranch, which are Teen Challenge facilities.

Guest speaker at the banquet will be Zollie Smith, the Ex-Director of the Assemblies of God U.S. Home Missions. The special project this year will be a matching funds grant of $25k offered by the Sutherland Foundation (Sutherland Lumber), designated for scholarships for deserving youth.

The Cross Christian Academy school choir, which consists of students from New LifeHouse and from Brush Creek Ranch, will also sing at the event. Tours of the facility will be available, including the new classrooms, gym and the recently redecorated girls dorms.

“A local church came in recently and redecorated some parts of the dorm. We try to give it a homey, not institutional feel, ” said Linda Goldner, banquet coordinator and Teen Challenge board member.

Ticket sales are going well. Tickets are still available and reservations will be accepted until noon on Friday.

Teen Challenge helps people with Life Controlling Addictions and has one of the highest success rates anywhere in the world. Since its first center opened in New York in 1960, Teen Challenge has grown to over 170 centers in 48 states and nearly 250 centers in 80 countries. In Puerto Rico the organization is building an AIDS hospital, the first of its kind.

Tuition, room and board for the school is $1900 per student per month. Most students stay twelve to fifteen months although some have stayed as long as two years. Funding is through donations and tuition. Actual costs are between $3,000 and $4,000.

“We wish we didn’t have to worry about dollars and could let anyone in that calls,” said Program Director, Rev. Shawn T. Blankenship, “But unfortunately that isn’t the case."

“Brush Creek is currently full, however there are spaces available at New LifeHouse for girls,” said Blankenship.

The current facilities meet their needs but they are missing the extras such as vocational training. This is where the public can help by donating time to teach students a skill. One example is Bill Stovall of Stovall Classics Personalized Catering; Stovall is the chef for the banquet. He has donated his time to come and teach the students waiting skills. The students will be with servers at the banquet.

“This small gesture is teaching the kids a life skill,” said Linda Goldner. “It’s hands on vocational training."

New LifeHouse just finished a new building with classrooms and a gymnasium.

“We are very excited to have this building done,” said Blankenship. “It’s been ten years in process.”

The Cross Christian Academy is their private, accredited, and year round school that the girls attend while at New LifeHouse.

“Our program offers a very structured environment to help foster growth in each of our student’s lives,” said Blankenship.

“One reason we are really excited to get the floor down in the new gym is that we have our first basketball game on November 18,” said Blankenship. This year the school will have its first official basketball program. They are members of the OCBA League and will play other local Christian schools in the league including Victory Road in Anderson, Mo.

They are also looking forward to adding spring sports.

"The kids are really sparked! It makes them feel more like they aren’t in Teen Challenge, but are more normal,” said Goldner, who founded the girl’s home with her husband Bill in 1984 before turning it over to Teen Challenge in 1996. “It also gives them an incentive to do better academically and with their behavior,” she added.

During a student’s stay at New LifeHouse, each student will have the opportunity to learn various life skills such as daily chores, basic auto mechanics, woodworking, gardening, lawn care, livestock care, and other activities. The students are also involved with various community service projects. This aspect of the program is used to assist the students in building a strong work ethic to enable them to be successful in their communities, families, and future careers.

Blankenship also added that they try to do a field trip each month. If anyone has field trip ideas or would like to volunteer skills, time or make a donation, please call at 918-435-8206 or go to their website at www.okteenchallenge.com.