Members of Teen Challenge Thunder Bay pose on the front porch of the group's new recovery home on Sunday.
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A local outreach program has found that when one door, or rather one building, closes another one opens.
Teen Challenge Thunder Bay celebrated the purchase of a new addiction recovery centre to serve as the group’s home and headquarters as they now have capability to increase the number of men they house at a time.
The group held a ribbon cutting at the building, located on Syndicate Avenue, on Sunday and showed examples of the transformations the program has assisted.
One such member, Ben Peters, is in the second phase of the organization’s yearlong drug treatment program after arriving from Manitoba after becoming an addict due to being sexually abused prior to his teen years.
“I knew I needed to change. I was desperate for anything else,” Peters recalled.
“My whole life, the way I think and the way I want to pursue things is completely outside of what I used to be. My mind has been completely changed.”
The program in Thunder Bay is directed towards helping men over the age of 18 with life-controlling illnesses get back on track using a faith-based strategy.
“It’s a holistic approach,” said Teen Challenge Central Canada director Robby Ahuja, who is a graduate of the program himself.
“We focus on the whole man from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. Not just on the spiritual aspect, but the physical aspect, mental aspect and changing who you are, what you do and how you do it.”
A significant way the program finds success is having past graduates help guide the current members towards the path of a new life.
Peters explained this aspect of the program keeps members accountable, and it helps them respect their mentors.
“It is very effective because they know and will call you out if you try to go off track,” he said. “They know how to keep you on track, and sometimes it can be difficult but it will save your life.”
The organization had previously been operating out of a warehouse on Simpson Street, but having bedrooms in a warehouse was nixed by the city.
So the organization sold the property on Simpson Street, and through donations and support from the general public was able to purchase the new home nearly debt-free.
The new home is a bonus for the organization, as it consolidates their operations as well as expands the reach of their program which had been housing six members.
“We’re going to be able to expand to 10 men, with the prospect of expanding to 16 down the road,” Ahuja said. “We’ll be able to have separate rooms and classrooms, we’ll be able to centralize all of our counselling, re-entry and offices into one building and have more of a home feel than small business feel.”
On hand for the ribbon cutting was mayor Keith Hobbs, who in his policing career had seen people at their worst and is glad the community is helping some of them back on their feet.
“As a police officer you see so many lost souls and when you see them being picked up and helped and built into productive citizens it really does make your heart feel good,” Hobbs said.
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