Local News

November 25, 2012

Teen Challenge: Changing lives through hope and healing

Teen Challenge helps students on the road to recovery

JOHNSON, Vt. — Gilles Gentley works alongside students every day seeking addiction treatment, helping them restore relationships through the grace of God.

As an admission coordinator at Teen Challenge Vermont, he fulfills one of the program’s motivating mottos and assists addicts forging a new path down the road to recovery.

“Hope lives here, freedom is found here, and changed lives leave here,” reads one of the many inspirational quotes scrolled across the organization’s website.

Gentley, 37, travels to high schools all over New England and New York with a group of students enrolled in the treatment program.

Together they present the Making Good Decisions course, designed to remind teenagers there is no gray area when it comes to drugs and alcohol. 

“Make decisions today that you can live with tomorrow,” they say.


Newly enrolled students seeking treatment in the Teen Challenge program also share important messages of faith and hope with local church congregations.

“When you come into the program, you are part of the choir ministry (that) travels around to various churches, and (you) sing songs and talk about what God has done in your life,” Gentley said. “They have traveled everywhere.”

For the past seven years at the Johnson, Vt., campus, Teen Challenge advisers such as Gentley have welcomed men age 18 and older, helping them get their lives back on track after battling with addiction. 

The residential, faith-based drug and alcohol program is available not only in Johnson — the center closest to the North Country — but also throughout the country. About 200 recovery homes for people of all ages, along with community-outreach programs for children and youth, are in operation nationwide, according to the Teen Challenge website.

The Brooklyn-based program was established on a national level in 1958 by the Rev. David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. It is one of the oldest and largest addiction-treatment programs in the country, providing intensive help with life-controlling problems.

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