As Sanford-based Teen Challenge Orlando celebrates a major expansion, the addiction counseling organization renews its commitment to build a legacy that lasts.
Many of the men battling drug addiction and life-controlling issues who have gone through the doors of Teen Challenge Orlando in Sanford can attest to the program’s life-transforming impact. That includes Jeremy Kupsch, now the program’s executive director. Jeremy was once a student himself at the Milwaukee Teen Challenge campus.
“I had 16 horrible years of drug addiction and depression, and I ended up at Teen Challenge,” says Jeremy. “Through faith and determination, I changed the entire course of my life. I also met my wife, Christina, through Teen Challenge. We were on parallel paths and found each other. Now, we have a family and are doing well.”
Thousands of men like Jeremy have received help through Teen Challenge Orlando – help that is free of prejudice and full of support, structure, and accountability. And now, thanks to the program’s recent expansion with additional dorms and office spaces, thousands more can get the help they need.
At a recent ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of several new campus buildings, student Thomas Keyes also shared his testimony and his story of relapse and 20 years of drug addiction.
“A lot of people thought I would never change. I thought I could never change, but today I wake up with joy, and am grateful to be alive,” said Thomas, who plans to pursue a path in the ministry.
Twenty-five years ago, husband-and-wife couples Bob and Sue Manderscheid and Jerry and Libby Nance joined forces to bring Teen Challenge to the Southeast region, and they did it for people like Jeremy and Thomas. The founders hoped to develop local refuges centered around a faith-based curriculum for people struggling with addiction. Today, their ambitious vision has evolved into 20 centers in six states, which together help 600 adults and 400 youth daily.
“These things don’t just happen; they take hard work and sacrifice,” says Brice Maddock, president and CEO of Teen Challenge’s Southeast region. “Bob, Sue, Jerry, and Libby helped build a legacy that will last and encourage others to do great things.”
Based in Sanford, Teen Challenge Orlando was one of the first locations to open its doors in the Southeast. Located at the intersection of East Lake Mary Boulevard and Sanford Avenue, the 65-bed, male-only campus recently debuted its newest additions: two dorm rooms, an administration office, and a counseling center. The ribbon cutting ceremony also served as a dedication to the two extraordinary couples who devoted their lives to improving the lives of others.
“This organization and the people involved are incredible,” says Scott Nelson, a Longwood resident and Teen Challenge Orlando board member. “The testimonies from students say it all. They will not turn you away if you need help. It’s a real honor to be part of something that has helped other people improve their lives and find success.”
The Teen Challenge Orlando program offers addiction and recovery education through Christian-based education classes, daily chapel devotions, pastoral counseling, life skills development, and on-the-job work training. Students participate in local micro enterprises run by Teen Challenge including thrift shops, car washes, and lawn-care services. They also visit local schools and youth groups to share their substance abuse stories and experiences at Teen Challenge Orlando.
Everyone on campus takes ownership of their work, and students are encouraged to focus on empowerment and the positive aspects of their life. The men also receive help in developing their leadership skills and social skills to prepare them to have healthy relationships in all facets of life.
”We will continue to be part of the solution, especially now with the opioid crisis our country is dealing with,” says Brice. “Through collaboration and strategic partnerships in the community, we are sitting at the table ready to make a difference in the world.”
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Teen Challenge is an international organization reaching more than 120 countries. The organization provides long-term residential care for adult men and women and boarding schools for adolescents struggling with addiction and behavioral issues. Teen Challenge has successfully transformed lives for 60 years. To learn more, visit TeenChallenge.cc.