At a recent conference in Winnipeg I had the pleasure of visiting The Forks, an area located at the junction of two large rivers....
The beautiful Primrose flower is native to Missouri. It’s the first rose of summer, and in many ways it represents rebirth, fresh beginnings and brighter days. It was only fitting that a new local nonprofit organization focused on new beginnings and brighter days be named after the flower.
Primrose Hill of Clark is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, faith-based organization affiliated with the international organization Teen Challenge. Primrose Hill’s goal is “to help women, mothers and their children whose lives have been affected by the life-controlling issue of drugs and alcohol.” The 5,700-foot home that sits on 43.5 acres in Clark, Missouri, serves as a 12-month residential recovery center for women and women with young children who have drug and alcohol addictions.
Teen Challenge has 1,200 centers globally, with 250 centers in the United States and centers in 108 countries, but only eight of those facilities in the U.S. allow young children to stay with their mothers in the center for the duration of their recovery. Primrose Hill is one of those rare centers.
“A lot of times the issue of who’s going to take care of children becomes a real obstacle for women to reach out and find help, and so this removes that obstacle and allows the children to come into the home with them,” says Rick Rowden, project development director for Primrose Hill Teen Challenge. “In Boone, Cole and Callaway County, the mental health statistics show there are more than 5,000 homes where children are living with addicted mothers. So it’s a pretty big crisis, yet it’s not something that’s distant; it’s right here at home.”
Value to the community
Rev. David Wilkerson, a pastor in Pennsylvania, established Teen Challenge in 1958. Since then, the organization has rapidly expanded, and many centers in the U.S. have their own 501(c)(3) nonprofit structures. The Primrose Hill 501(c)(3) nonprofit is part of Teen Challenge International-Neosho that includes Teen Challenge of the Four States in Neosho, Missouri, a substance-abuse rehabilitation center for men established in 1997, and United Rescue, which includes Teen Challenge Centers in the Asia Pacific region.
Primrose Hill is the newest addition to the network, opening its doors for the first time in November 2014.
“Primrose Hill Teen Challenge provides women with life-controlling addictions the opportunity through Jesus Christ for life transformation,” says Randy Asbury, president of the board of directors for Teen Challenge International/Four States/Primrose Hill. “As a result, they can overcome their addictions, find healing and restoration and become loving and nurturing mothers to their children. Their successes add value to any community.”
Primrose Hill offers its services to anyone over the age of 18, and it has capacity to house between 10 and 12 women, depending on how many have children with them. The center is currently serving seven women and three children.
“Our referrals come from all over the nation because of our network of over 250 Teen Challenges,” Rowden says. “We actually have referrals from all over the country right now, and the calls just keep coming in every day.”
Residents at Primrose Hill are referred to as students and experience a very disciplined and structured daily routine. Students begin their day at 6.30 a.m. with Bible study and devotion time and then spend their morning studying a curriculum created by Teen Challenge USA that’s unique to their recovery phase. After lunch, the students help manufacture products called Prim Goods, which include soaps, body lotion, lip balm and sugar scrubs. Prim goods are then sold, and the money is used to help finance the center. After supper, the Center encourages students to spend quality time with their children.
Primrose Hill requires its students to go through a lengthy application process and a $1,200 induction fee that is used for some of the hard costs involved in running the center. The center mainly finances its $17,000 monthly budget from individual and business donations, church donations and grants.
“The community has really stepped up in a big way,” Rowden says. “Because we work with mothers and children, those are two groups of folks that everyone can have some compassion for. We can always use more, but the greatness of god and the goodness of people continue to provide for us.”
Independent studies report Teen Challenge has a 70 to 85 percent success rate, something Rowden attributes to the year- long commitment and faith component of the program. In fact, many students at Primrose Hill have come from 30- to 60-day recovery programs but needed the extra support and guidance that the Teen Challenge program provides.
“It is noble to save the life of a women, but when you touch the life of a child, you’re impacting generations,” Rowden says. “ Along with my family, Primrose Hill has become my spiritual legacy, so I really want to get the home up and running, successful and sustain- able. Hopefully this is something I can leave a mark on and make a difference.”