2016 MAAR Grant Recipient: Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge
“I wouldn’t be sitting here right now if it weren’t for Teen Challenge,” says Christine, a graduate of the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge (MnTC) addiction recovery program. Now an employee of the organization, Christine reflects on her first days at MnTC, “By the time you come here, you’ve lost it all.”
Sadly, Christine’s losses due to addiction reflect the reality of many of her peers who are participating in or have graduated from MnTC. They have often lost their home, car, career, and even family to their addictions. The goal of MnTC’s thirteen month recovery program is to change that loss.
However, unlike many addiction recovery programs, MnTC does not want to send its graduates back into the world–at least not yet. “Some people aren’t ready to go back or don’t have a safe space to go back to, so we take care of them until they do,” explains Mary Kay Bensen, Foundation and Grants Manager. This is why MnTC created their Teen Challenge Leadership Institute (TCLI), a program designed to help its clients reach beyond short-term sobriety.
At the TCLI, clients benefit from transitional housing while they engage in employment counseling, and certification programs such as Professional Food Managers Certification, Boilers License Training, Floor Care Training, Customer Service Training, and Small Engine Repair. Each client also goes through a five week career transition workshop and comes out with a professional resume, interviewing experience, and a greater focus on their future plans.
Combined, TCLI’s transitional housing and additional services create an environment that prepares clients for a successful life after the program. Christine explains, “You’re learning to live day to day while making the correct choices. It’s also affordable to live here so it’s easier to find a job and get your finances in gear. Just learning to work sober is challenging, and they really help you.”
MnTC has several locations throughout Minnesota, including Duluth, Brainerd, Buffalo, Rochester, and a handful in Minneapolis. Their administrative offices are located in Hope Commons, a building that is also home to men’s and women’s transitional housing, a chapel, counseling services, and several classrooms.
Since 2007, over 700 men and women, (ages 17 and older) have used the Transitional Housing Program at Hope Commons; the average age being 35; 95% are below the median income level; 43% are parents. Clients come from all walks of life, oftentimes from once-successful careers or lifestyles; one of the current residents is a mother who entered the program after she was found high and living in the park just outside Hope Commons.
Clients who reside in transitional housing and are participating in the Teen Challenge Leadership Institute have access to resources that provide a holistic, long-term recovery. From job training courses to family counseling services, MnTC works to ensure every client has a chance at success.
Christine reflects on the effect of transitional housing on her recovery and continued sobriety, “[Transitional housing] has been really nice for me because I lived four hours north of here. Even though I had a good career [as a real estate agent] in the past, it’s so hard to go from a thirteen month program back into the world. It’s so nice here because you get eased back into the world; you start to pay rent, buy your own food again, and go back to work. It’s really the next step you need after going to a treatment facility. I don’t think I’d be sober if I didn’t live here.”
After graduating the program, Christine took a job with the Development Team at MnTC, where she hopes to work in the long term. Currently, Christine lives in MnTC’s transitional housing, which means she lives and works on two floors in the same building. The opportunity has been transformational for Christine. She says, “Where else can you work that you get to pray before a meeting, that your boss is a Christian and you know will treat you nicely, and your coworkers aren’t going out to happy hour?”
The Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® was honored to provide a grant to MnTC to support the great work they are doing in our community. Without their transitional housing and support services, many addicts would not have found–and stayed on–the road to recovery.