Deena C. Bouknight Contributing Writer
Mike Barres, executive director of Adult and Teen Challenge of the Smokies Men’s Center said, “It’s been a great year” in terms of all that has been accomplished at the faith-based addiction recovery campus in Franklin.
“Our men come from some pretty desperate situations because of their addiction – in jail, numerous overdoses, homeless, hopeless and depressed,” noted Barres. “It is pretty wonderful to see them get their hope back and begin to learn a new and better way to live and cope. Our guys feel so loved and encouraged by our community. We are so thankful for all of the heartfelt support.”
All men in the 12-month on-site program are involved in group studies, personal studies, Bible study, counseling, chapel, and work. Life skills and coping skills are taught to give the men “new tools” to handle the stress and problems of life, according to Barres.
“We have classes, recreation, work experience, vocational training, volunteer work,
hiking, music (singing and guitar), and more,” he said. The list of accomplishments on the 10-acre campus along the Cullasaja River, is extensive – in order to equip men enrolled in Teen Challenge.
Men’s center 2022 highlights
– January – auto shop outfitting completed – Carquest RSR Auto Parts and other donors
– March – a deck completed on one of the housing duplexes – First Alliance Church
– March – bathrooms completed in the auditorium – Mike Giamo led construction
and Watauga Baptist and myriad individuals provided donations
– April – paid off campus mortgage – donors and a state grant made possible by Kevin Corbin
– July – dorm bathroom/showers renovation completed – Mike Giamo led construction and a state grant paid for the project
– August – completed construction on a sixth graduate (transition) cabin – individual donors
In October, the Hunter’s Mountain Ride fundraiser yielded $12,500, “and we are so thankful since we scholarship two-thirds of our men,” said Barres. “And for 2022, we will have had 14 graduates from our 12-month program and five baptized in the river by the center.”
Regarding community support, Barres pointed out, “Our men love to attend area churches because people at the churches are so loving and encouraging to our men. Many individuals, businesses, and churches send us monthly support. Many area churches bring us a meal once a month. I really believe that our program has greater community support than any other Adult and Teen Challenge program in the country. By the end of the year, we will have done 25 church services where the men sing and give personal testimonies.”
The original Teen Challenge was launched in 1958 in Staten Island, N.Y., by Pastor David Wilkerson, who conducted street rallies during which gang leaders and members’ lives were transformed when they learned about the gospel of Christ. Today, Teen Challenge International has grown to include more than 200 programs, numerous evangelism outreach centers in the United States, and 1,400 centers in 122 other countries. All centers, including the local men’s center, operate autonomously.
“We are nonprofit and don’t receive any insurance funding or federal or state funding,” said Barres. “And, our program is every effective. For those who complete our program, the success rate of living clean and sober is over 80%, and for those who are a part of the 20%, many have gotten more help and are doing well today.”
More information is available at www.livinghopeway.com.