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Banquet helps Teen Challenge

By Robert Hudson

The Selma Times-Journal

A local organization is preparing to hold a fundraiser that will help it continue its goal of freeing others from life-crippling addictions.

Teen Challenge in Selma will hold its fourth annual banquet Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Carl Morgan Convention Center.

Jason Easter, program director of the Teen Challenge facility in Selma, said the fundraiser goes toward Teen Challenge’s annual budget.

“It’s our largest fundraiser that we have for our facility here,” Easter said. “We’re responsible for raising our own budget and it just goes toward our annual budget. We do it once a year.”

Churches sponsor tables and tables are sold to local businesses. Tables are still available for businesses for $300 each, which includes seven tickets received upon purchase of table. Businesses looking to purchase a table can call 872-0133.

Tickets will be for sell at the door for $30.

Easter said Teen Challenge does fundraisers in order to raise money and reach out to as many people as possible.

“Teen Challenge is a 12-month long residential, Christian discipleship program for individuals that struggle with drug or alcohol addiction,” Easter said. “We’re faith based. We raise our own budget. We’re not federally funded, so we do fundraisers like this for our budget and to reach as many as we can.”

Easter said last year about 300 people attended.

Splat of the Splat Experience, who is touring with Casting Crowns will open the banquet.

Dinner will be served, and then Ron Delgado, a pastor at a church in Columbus, Mississippi will give a speech. Delgado was a graduate of the original Teen Challenge in Brooklyn, New York in the 70s.

Easter said the program tries to help those suffering from addiction and will not turn anyone away if they’re short on money.

“We don’t turn anyone away because of financial reasons,” Easter said. “We’re constantly doing church services and fundraisers like this so we can help as many people as we can.”

Easter said the documented success rate of Teen Challenge is between 65 and 86 percent, and graduates are still drug or alcohol free seven years after the program.

“It’s not a rehab, it’s a discipleship program,” Easter said. “We just preach the gospel and teach these men, and our women facilities in Birmingham, how to be disciples for Christ and that’s where the freedom comes from.”

Easter said the program truly does change lives beyond helping people get sober.

“We see so many lives restored and changed,” Easter said. “We see so many people set free from those addictions. It’s a phenomenal ministry. It’s not just about sobriety. Teen Challenge teaches them how to be free, happy and how to be successful at life and how to enjoy life without drugs or alcohol.”
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