Student Spotlight: Steffanie
One of the most unique things about Teen Challenge Monterey Bay as a recovery program is the focus on the healing of the whole person. This free 13-month program allows students (people who become a part of the program) to not only face and heal their life-controlling addiction but to engage in a safe community that helps them reintegrate into the world through education, work-study or trade.
Why is this significant? In typical rehab programs, it’s 28 days and out. This offers limited support and limited life skills to help students really keep their life-controlling addiction at bay. Teen Challenge programs offer so much more. We’re doing a series featuring a few of our students nearing the end of their program and what Teen Challenge has done for them.
Meet Steffanie — full of life, passion, and vigor. It wasn’t always like that for her. We sat down and asked her a few questions about her experience and what’s next for her.
What brought you to Teen Challenge?
I was in jail in June 2018, I was charged with 2nd degree armed robbery, sentenced to 1-2 years in prison. I had been in and out of jail for years and was addicted to heroin for 10 years. I was stuck in a destructive cycle. I had heard about a new thing they were doing that instead of sending you to prison, they were giving an option of the Felony Drug Program. The judge agreed to let me do this program since going to jail and getting back out again wasn’t helping me make better decisions. I had never heard of Teen Challenge before, but instead of going to prison, I was blessed to come here.
Can you tell me about the transformation you saw in yourself?
I don’t have an exact moment. I would say the entire program and the love I received when I got here and falling in love with Jesus again. I was a Christian before I got here, but I had gone my own way.
I never had love, I never had any self-esteem, nothing that made me feel valuable or worthy. The love of Jesus, the amazing staff, and my loving sisters is what did it for me. Just slowly every day engraining Jesus, reading the Bible. Reminding us that we are worth something of value. Reminding us that we aren’t just a junkie to be thrown away, or that we should be in jail or be on the street is what did it. It took a long time. I wouldn’t say that there was a moment that just ‘clicked’, but it just ‘clicked.’
“The love of Jesus, the amazing staff, and my loving sisters is what did it for me.”
What excites you the most about Grace Harbor (Teen Challenge’s newest center)?
When you enter phase 4 of the Teen Challenge Program, we are allowed to pick from 3 different tracks for the Intern program. I presented the Rescue Mission for my track. I am the outreach coordinator for Grace Harbor, that’s my 4th phase assignment. I want to give women what I have received, I want to show them that if I can do it, they can do it. Anything is possible with Jesus.
I tried to get free from addiction on my own strength, and it didn’t work. I want to be the voice for the ones who don’t have a voice. Freeing women from human trafficking and those who are in abusive relationships is my passion. I just want to help people the way I was helped. I just want to give back the gift that I was given.
What about Grace Harbor will provide women the help you are describing?
Women knowing they have some place safe to go. Love. You aren’t thrown away and you are worth something. I’ve never had that before, and that is what the Teen Challenge Programs bring to people. Grace Harbor will allow us to help so many more women and women with children. Allowing the homeless to come in, and we serve them. The staff aren’t just a bunch of ‘normal’ people who have never experienced drugs and alcohol. We have been through it, and we understand and have compassion, sympathy, and kindness for what they are experiencing. That is what makes the difference.
What is one thing that you could tell people about Teen Challenge?
We don’t give up on people. There is such a thing as hope, we do believe in you. The answer to everything is faith. Nothing is impossible with God. If you want it, we will help you. And we will never ever give up on you. That is what is so amazing about Teen Challenge.
“We don’t give up on people. There is such a thing as hope, we do believe in you.”
In your opinion, what would your life look like if Teen Challenge didn’t exist?
Before I came to Teen Challenge, I was running around the streets of Stockton. I was homeless, I was a heroin user, I was involved in gangs. Without the Freedom Women’s center, I would be in prison or dead.
What makes the Teen Challenge Program Different than other programs?
What I love about Teen Challenge is that I came straight from jail, but a lot of the other ladies were rescued in the state they are in by the Teen Challenge staff members. When they get here, we help stabilize them and then we help them become a functioning member of society. We don’t keep them for just 28 days, and then send them along. We teach them how to have a new way of life — how to be the person that God made them to be. Not only do we focus on helping them with their addiction, but we teach them life skills, and job skills. There is Hope & Life.
“We don’t keep [people] for just 28 days, and then send them along. We teach them how to have a new way of life — how to be the person that God made them to be.”