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GUEST COLUMN: Teen Challenge is a blessing

What a pleasure it was to attend the annual Central Minnesota Teen Challenge Banquet at Cragun’s Thursday night the fifth. Thanks to the generosity of those in the Brainerd lakes area, this banquet was completely filled out with 544 persons having bought tickets for this event. Talking about generosity by individuals as well as companies in this area, there were three very long tables completely filled up with quality and very nice items donated for the silent auction prior to the excellent meal and testimonies from some of the residents that are in the Brainerd Teen Challenge. While it is very sad and disturbing to see so many young adults and older struggling with very strong addictions that ruins their family life and their own self worth.

We are blessed to not only have this fine facility in Brainerd to help those with these addictions, but are thankful for  the excellent fine staff that work there under the direction and encouragement of Mr. Sam Anderson. Talk about a person with the love of not only those that are residents there, but his love of God that radiates with a glow around him whenever he talks about the program. Pastor Rich Scherber, executive director of Minnesota Teen Challenge, commented on how truly wonderful it was to have the support of Brainerd in starting up this program about four years ago as well as the outpouring of support from so many people in the Brainerd lakes area since its inception.

This program in Brainerd is for males only, but in his brief comments Thursday night, Mr. Sam Anderson brought up a vision of his that he is prayerfully looking at, which is to have a facility for women who have children where their children can live with them in the program. Out of the nationwide Teen Challenge 300 or more facilities, there are only a few that offer this program and yet, is very worthwhile and needed to help this segment with addictions. So I would ask that you keep Sam and this vision in yours prayers, as well as the continued support of the Brainerd Teen Challenge.

Thank you and may God bless all of those involved now and hopefully those in the future.

JAMES E. WALLIN is mayor of Brainerd.