Organizers with Teen Challenge of Oklahoma hope the upcoming banquet will be a home run as they work to raise funds for the facilities in Jay and Disney with a guest appearance by former major league baseball player Darryl Strawberry.
Strawberry will serve as the keynote speaker for the banquet, set for 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Double Tree Hilton in Tulsa.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Brush Creek, a facility for teen boys in Jay, New Lifehouse, a facility in Disney for teen girls, and Freedom House, a facility for women in Tulsa.
Tickets for the event are free, and available with advance registration, thanks to the underwriting of a donor. The event includes a silent auction, and a chance for participants to make a donation or become a monthly ministry supporter.
Erik Winston, who manages the three Teen Challenge locations, said Strawberry's visit is a perfect fit for the evening event.
"Darryl has a powerful story of his own struggle with addiction and his road to recovery," Winston said. "He is passionate about sharing what Jesus has done in his life and helping others find a way to get plugged in to make a difference for those in need of the freedom he has found."
Teen Challenge is a non-denominational Christian ministry that works with teens dealing with a range of issues including drug addiction, self-harm and other self-destructive behaviors.
Students are placed at the centers by either their parents/guardians or through the various court systems, in an effort to help them learn to correct poor life decisions.
Winston, who works at the three facilities alongside his wife, Melissa, said he has a strong passion for the work they are doing.
As a youth pastor, Winston believes he was called to work with the teens. He finds a lot of rewards in helping students, and is proud when many return after completing the 12 to 15 week program, to volunteer or work at the centers.
Winston said Teen Challenge of Oklahoma officials offer a structured daily life for the students who live at Brush Creek and New Lifehouse.
As a fully-accredited private Christian High School, the two facilities offer competitive sports ranging from football, basketball, volleyball and track.
The day begins with a 5:55 a.m. wake up call, for students to complete chores monitored by staff.
Winston said after chores and breakfast students attend school.
Once done with their daily scholastic endeavors, the teens are required to attend one on one counseling sessions and complete additional chores.
A devotional, and early bedtime at 9 p.m., complete the day.
Winston said the organization will soon break ground on a new boys dorm, to replace the current facility which is a half-century old converted stable.
The new facility, which is expected to cost around $400,000, will be a modern dormitory and allow officials to double Brush Creek's capacity from 20 to 40 boys.
Monthly tuition costs per student are around $6,000, but Winston said donations and scholarships help bring the costs down to approximately $3,200 per month.
He said some teens in the program qualify for financial assistance which brings their monthly costs down, some as low as $100 per month.
Monies raised during this week's banquet will help officials keep tuition low, fund the new dormitory for boys and help launch a new life house to assist rescuing girls from human trafficking.
Winston said his students stay involved with the local communities, with officials striving to teach them to give to others through volunteer efforts with local churches.
In the last month, 27 students and staff members traveled to Rwanda, spending their time building houses, working with local orphanages and participating in evangelistic rallies in remote areas.