By AMY HEGGEN Press-Republican
---- — WESTPORT — The Teen Challenge Choir, composed of young men from all over the United States, will share stories of their substance-abuse past at Westport Federated Church next week.
The members, all over age 18, are students at Teen Challenge Training Center in Rehrersburg, Pa., a faith-based substance-abuse program with centers around the country.
Teen Challenge helps individuals battle drug and alcohol issues to get their lives back on track. The program also has homes for women and adolescents.
“During our presentation, some of the men in the choir share stories about their lives, a little bit about their background and how they came to the Teen Challenge organization,” said Bob Costanza, the choir director at Teen Challenge.
Costanza has been the director for 23 years and has been on more than 100 tours with the group. He writes all the arrangements and even some of the lyrics.
The group, which now consists of nine members, rehearses every day and goes on a few tours each year, Costanza said.
The Teen Challenge Choir primarily performs at churches but has also sung the national anthem at major and minor league baseball games and has been to 41 states.
Every month is a graduation for Teen Challenge students, and every month brings in new potential members, so the choir makeup often changes from month to month, he said.
“We go out and sing every weekend somewhere,” Costanza said. “We do a lot of traveling.
“It’s pretty exciting. We get to travel, we get to meet people, and they get to share their stories of what happened to them and how they’re different now.”
The visit to Westport is part of a two-week tour in Upstate New York and New England, one of the group’s favorite trips, he said.
INTENDING TO INSPIRE
“Often when we sing in churches, there are some people that know someone that’s involved in drugs that needs help. In this way, we can be an inspiration to someone else,” he said.
“Certainly, any time you get to tell your story about what happened to you, to someone else, that reinforces the healing that has taken place in your own life.”
The choir sings traditional, gospel, country, swing, jazz and big-band music, all with a Christian message.
“All the music is very inspiring, very uplifting,” he said.
The choir doesn’t use instruments except the occasional piano but found that using a soundtrack works better.
“We are a team, and we rehearse and we learn to work as a team,” Costanza said.
Although things can be difficult traveling the country, he said, the trips are positive and upbeat.HEAR THE CHOIR Teen Challenge Choir sings at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at Westport Federated Church, 6486 Main St.