Rising to the ChallengeTo say Minnesota Teen Challenge has helped Tait Tracy is an understatement.
By: Mike Enright, Alexandria Echo Press
To say Minnesota Teen Challenge has helped Tait Tracy is an understatement.
“If it wasn’t for Teen Challenge, I would probably be in prison,” the former Alexandria resident said.
A few months ago, Tracy, 30, was sitting in Douglas County jail, charged with making terroristic threats, driving while intoxicated and possession of an illegal substance, following a run-in with some bouncers at Bug-A-Boo Bay restaurant in Alexandria.
Because of his previous record, he was facing up to two years hard time.
He wrote to Teen Challenge, a Christian-based drug rehabilitation program, and asked for their help.
“This being faith-based – chemical treatment programs provide something, but they don’t really provide a way to overcome your illness,” he said. “Jail teaches you nothing. This teaches you the word of God.”
A judge granted Tracy’s request, allowing him to seek treatment while avoiding prison.
On August 1, he enrolled in the organization’s long-term adult care program for treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.
The live-in program lasts from 12-15 months, with participants gradually gaining privileges and responsibilities as they progress, said Maria Brandenburg, communication coordinator for Teen Challenge’s Brainerd office.
About 11 weeks into the program so far, Tracy said he splits his time between Bible study, doing community service projects and helping remodel the women’s Teen Challenge center in Minneapolis.
“This is something that has helped me live out my Christian life,” he said. “I did try to go to church in Alexandria, but it was too easy to fall back into old habits.
“This has helped me get back on track.”
Teen Challenge’s long-term teen care program has helped 14-year-old Chelsea Woodruff turn her life around.
Woodruff came to Minnesota from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she had been trying unsuccessfully to live with her grandparents.
She joined the program more than 11 months ago to deal with behavioral issues and substance abuse.
Woodruff said Teen Challenge has helped her overcome those problems, and now she has a much healthier relationship with her family.
“I’m a much happier person [now],” she said. “I’ve grown through a lot of stuff that happened in the past, and I’ve let it go.”
Although she didn’t like it at first, Woodruff said singing in the Teen Challenge choir has been key in her rehabilitation this past year.
On October 4, both Woodruff and Tracy performed in a Teen Challenge choir concert at Arrowwood Resort near Lake Darling.
With 60 percent of Teen Challenge’s funding coming from private church donations, Brandenburg said singing in the choir is part of being in the program.
Woodruff said she enjoys singing now, and she’s a soloist on the song “I Will Never be the Same.”
Tracy said he’s still getting used to the idea.
“I don’t know about a favorite,” he said, “but one [song] that always brings tears to my eyes is ‘Thank You for Giving to the Lord.’ ”
Once she completes the program, Woodruff said she is looking forward to moving back home with her grandparents and going to school again.
“I never thought they’d say they have hope in me,” she said.
While Tracy still has some more time yet in the program, he said he already knows it has made a positive impact on his life.
He said he’s gotten engaged since joining Teen Challenge, and he’s again hopeful for the future.
“God doesn’t recover us so we can only live our own successful, selfish lives,” he said. “He recovers us so we can be a blessing to others.
“I think this program can help make me into that.”