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Faith based residential treatment center hopes to expand

A faith-based residential treatment center for women with life-controlling problems like substance abuse will hold a banquet to raise awareness of their cause and help pay off the mortgage on the facility.

Teen Challenge of Mississippi is located in Poplarville, and is a nonprofit that offers long-term residential treatment for up to 16 women at a time. Teen Challenge is a national program with locations throughout the U.S.

The organization’s Freedom Banquet will be Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Link on Goodyear Boulevard. Tickets are $50. The banquet will include motivational speaker Derrick Doyle, who is a former New Orleans Saints player, and a performance by local singer Brittany Meeks, who completed the Teen Challenge program.

“She’s one of our many success stories, so it’s really exciting to have her there to be a part of that night,” said Jayne Kotter, Teen Challenge administrative assistant.

The organization has been operating for over 30 years, Kotter said, and was originally based in Pascagoula. The center moved to Poplarville to expand, and was able to double the number of beds from eight to 16. The center provides assistance to women 18 years and older, Kotter said. There is a men’s center elsewhere in Mississippi.

The center’s staff hopes to retire the mortgage on the building in Poplarville so the program can continue to expand, Kotter said.

The program typically takes 13 months to complete, and before residents leave they create new goals to help them stay focused on moving forward, Kotter said. The center’s mentors and program directors regularly connect with the program’s participants during the three month aftercare program.

Attendees pay a $750 entrance fee and $400 a month while they stay at the center, Kotter said. The program is not medical, so health insurance does not cover the cost, Kotter said.

“We will always work with them. We do not turn anyone away over money,” Kotter said.

Typically the center has one bed available, but there have been times when there was a waiting list, Kotter said. Currently, there are three beds available in the center.

The center claims an 80 percent success rate, but does not have an empirical approach to determining its success rate, Kotter said. The center evaluates its success by checking Facebook to see if former residents need help, and by seeing former participants at church events throughout the state, Kotter said.

To purchase tickets to the banquet, mail Teen Challenge of Mississippi, 5 Buford Lane, Poplarville, Miss. or contact Teen Challenge of Mississippi at 601-795-8063.