Teen Challenge International at work in Lincoln

By: Todd Wilson News Messenger Correspondent
-A +A
Sacramento Valley Teen Challenge International has helped area adults with “life-controlling problems” such as drug addiction since 1974. The faith-based program has a more than 75-percent success rate, according to Rhonda Perryman, the organization’s director of development. Teen Challenge International began in 1958 in New York City when Rev. Dave Wilkerson reached out to boys who were gang members or had drug problems. Since then, the program has developed into an agency that helps addicts of all ages. Sacramento Valley Teen International operates four centers. Participants are in the program from 12 to 18 months. The group’s Lincoln facility, the Alpha Henson Women’s Center, is a 27-bed facility in the free residential program. The program gives participants job skills and boosts feelings of self worth and self esteem so that they can become productive members of society when they leave the program, Perryman said. To help meet that goal, participants are required to get off welfare and other forms of government assistance before entering the program, said public relations coordinator Brian Healey. “We want students to know that they can make it on their own and be self-sufficient without government aid,” Healey said. Participants take a number of classes on parenting, dealing with finances, computer skills and resume and career building, Perryman said. Steve Lindner, assistant pastor at the Bayside Church of Lincoln, is a volunteer and teaches career classes such as resume building and interview techniques at the Lincoln facility. Lindner brings in guest speakers from businesses and employment agencies to show participants that companies are willing to hire them if they develop certain skills. “It gives self worth to a person in knowing that when they’re done with the program they will be seen as a vital member of society,” Lindner said. Healey said the program receives no government funds and sustains itself through private sector donations and through its own business enterprises. About half of the organization’s funding comes from businesses it operates, which includes a janitorial service, a gift basket business, lawn care service and two thrift stores, Healey said. Program participants staff these businesses to gain job skills and develop a strong work ethic, Healey said. Perryman said the program also helps those participants that have not graduated from high school the chance to earn a G.E.D during their stay. The rest of the organization’s revenue comes from private donations and fundraisers, Healey said. Fundraisers include a golf tournament every June, a charity banquet in September and a vehicle donation program. “Really, it’s an amazing program,” Lindner said. “It’s by far the best program of its kind out there, secular or otherwise.” To donate to, volunteer for or find out how to enroll in Sacramento Valley Teen Challenge International programs, call the Administrative Office at 362-2800 or Rhonda Perryman at 645-5500. The News Messenger highlights an area nonprofit organization every week. If you have an organization you would like to see featured, please call 774-7972 or e-mail