Teen Challenge Group Helps Out at Parade

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

STAUNTON -- Celebrating freedom from addiction, and helping out at America's Birthday Celebration in Staunton.

In Staunton today, a group from Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge, a Christian rehab program in Basye, was on hand to help. From directing traffic, to selling sno-cones and cotton candy, even working as security - the group celebrated their country's - and their own - freedom.

"It's all about freedom, and it's about us coming together," said Jay Harrell.

It may be July Fourth, but for Harrell, these are feelings he can express every day after spending the last seven months at Teen Challenge, a 12-month, faith-based rehab program.

Richard Lindemann is in his seventh week at Teen Challenge.

"It shows you what you can be, versus what it was," he said.

Lindemann, Harrell and others from the program volunteered at America's Birthday Celebration in Staunton, helping with parking, security and at the gate. The young women from the program ran a concession stand, selling cotton candy and sno-cones.

Justin Franich, the program's director, says giving back is an important part of the rehabilitation process.

"It's important for our men and women in their recovery to get them plugged into community events and be a part of their community, because that's what we're encouraging them to do when they go back home," he said.

Franich himself says he is a product of the program - a former meth addict, now free from addiction.

"Today I've got a wife, two lovely children, and we direct a great program to help people who were just like I was," he said.

For Lindemann, the program has given him another chance, he says, to live life the "right way" - like his grandfather did.

"There's few people in this world I look up to and idolize, and he's the number one," Lindemann said.

So they work - today in Staunton, and at the Teen Challenge headquarters in Basye - to be the men they want to be.

"Sleeping at night is going to be a whole different experience, to know that I haven't failed my son as a father," Harrell said. "It just means the world to me to be able to be a good father and supporter and someone he can go to for advice."

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