MN ADULT & TEEN CHALLENGE ROCHESTER–WOMEN’S CENTER IS A PLACE OF HOPE AND HEALING. While laughter echoes through the hallways and children enjoy visits with their mothers, profound life-altering changes take place in a safe environment. A cocoon of love and respect envelops these women, sheltering them from the storms of daily life while they face down their demons and do the hard work of freeing themselves from addiction.
Faith-based Mn Adult & Teen Challenge, headquartered in the Twin Cities, has been helping adults and teens break free from drug and alcohol addictions since 1983. A few years ago, Mn Adult & Teen Challenge recognized a need in southeast Minnesota and opened a men’s facility in Rochester in January 2014. The men’s facility is located in the old Samaritan Bethany nursing home near Assisi Heights. Nearly from the beginning, there was a vision for a women’s center in Rochester. Center Director Tom Truszinski, who oversees both the men’s and women’s campuses, says having the opportunity to build the women’s facility is a prayer answered.
A PLACE FOR NEW BEGINNINGS
Initially, Truszinski approached the Sisters of Saint Francis at Assisi Heights about the possibility of purchasing a parcel of land from them to build a women’s facility. At the time, the Sisters were not interested in selling their land. After an exhaustive and unsuccessful search for affordable and suitable property throughout southeast Minnesota, Truszinski explains he gave up and turned it over to God. He says, “I told God, ‘If you want the center, you’ll have to make the arrangements.’ About two weeks later, the Sisters contacted me and asked if we were still looking for land for a women’s center. It was amazing!”
The Sisters agreed to sell three acres to Mn Adult & Teen Challenge. Plans were drawn up, and soon construction was under way. In designing the women’s facility, Truszinski took many of the elements of the men’s building that worked well and replicated them. Then he added things that he wished the men’s facility had, like an expanded exercise area, family space and a kids’ room.
The newly constructed women’s center is peacefully nestled in the shadow of Assisi Heights, across the street from the men’s building and serves both short-term and long-term clients. The long-term program opened in November 2017, and the short-term program opened in March 2018. The short-term wing is designed for stays of 14 to 90 days in duration. The women in the short-term unit are often in trauma so the area was designed to accommodate their immediate needs.
LONG-TERM PROGRAM: RETOOLING FOR THE ROAD AHEAD
The long-term program is a 13-month, faith-based, Christ-centered program which helps clients learn a whole new way of life. “We help them learn to deal with every trigger of life in a very healthy way,” Truszinski shares.
A lot of the women have children, and as a result of their addiction issues, the relationships with their children are often strained or broken. During the long-term program the women have an opportunity to learn and practice new parenting skills and how to deal with their own anger in a more positive manner. Because of the unique way the women’s facility is designed, the women have many opportunities to interact with their children in a more normal setting in the kids’ room, family area and outside on the swing set. The environment helps the women gain confidence in their parenting skills, and Truszinski says, “It gives them an ‘I can do this!’ feeling.”
The new women’s building is beautifully appointed, and the atmosphere in the long-term wing feels much like a dormitory setting. There are common areas for the women to gather, play games, read or listen to music. There is also a chapel for prayer services, a brightly decorated children’s room, an exercise room and an outdoor volleyball court. There’s even a big, sturdy swing set outside for their children to enjoy during visitations.
All of the women’s sleeping rooms are double occupancy with a shared bathroom. The sleeping rooms have large windows which allow in a lot of light and offer views of the pastoral setting. Of the new facility, Truszinski says, “It cost $7.1 million, and it is completely paid for.”
KITCHEN SERVES BOTH FACILITIES
Because of the proximity to the men’s facility—only a few hundred feet separates the two buildings—Mn Adult & Teen Challenge saved over $300,000 building the women’s center because they didn’t have to replicate a kitchen. The food is prepared in the men’s kitchen and transferred to the women’s facility. As a result, they were able to include more bedrooms in the design of the women’s building because they didn’t need space for a large commercial kitchen.
It takes a lot of people to run both facilities which are staffed around the clock. Currently, there are 126 people on staff, and Truszinski says they have about 10 positions open. Mn Adult & Teen Challenge is staffed with counselors, food service staff, facilities staff, nurses, recovery coaches, admissions team, development team, administration, mental health experts, counselors and chaplains. There are also contract medical teams consisting of doctors and other medical professionals in addition to the Mn Adult & Teen Challenge staff.
The participants of the long-term program seem to truly enjoy themselves while they work on their recovery. Genevieve is one of the women currently participating in the long-term program. She has been in the program for about six months and when asked about her experience at Mn Adult & Teen Challenge she shares, “It’s been wonderful. They have a biblical curriculum, and that’s moved me in a lot of different ways. There’s healing that’s going on, there’s restoration for families, help for the families. Our relationship (with her adult children) is different now. We’re not arguing anymore. It’s wonderful. I would recommend this program to anybody.”
Summing up, Genevieve adds, “The staff here genuinely care about us. It’s a wonderful program. I really like it.” Genevieve recognizes the power of Mn Adult & Teen Challenge and is thinking of becoming trained to work with women entering the program, to help women the way she has been helped. She explains, “I want to get into the ministry.”
Truszinski has great respect for people who come through the program and says, “The clients do the hard work. It takes such a big person to say, ‘I need help’ and then do the hard work.”
The staff of Mn Adult & Teen Challenge is passionate about “restoring hope to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.” Most of their clients do not have health insurance or a way to pay for their stay. Truszinski explains, “Short-term is usually paid by a private payor or the state. When someone comes into the long-term program, we have to raise the funds. We need to raise $1,172 per month, per client over and above the amount we receive as a stipend from the government. That amounts to about $100,000 each month that needs to be raised (for both facilities).”
To spread the word about Mn Adult & Teen Challenge and to raise money, a group of staff and program participants travel to area churches to sing and testify about how their lives have been transformed through their participation in the program. They often have multiple engagements on the same day and are booked through August 2019.
If you or someone you know needs help, or if you would like to make a donation, call 612-FREEDOM for help today. Mn Adult & Teen Challenge is largely supported by donations. Visit mntc.org to learn more.
Cindy Mennenga, owner of MedCity WordCraft, LLC is a freelance writer and editor based in Rochester.