Mary Lou Blackley, Rotarian of the week for the Winnfield Rotary Club, introduced her special guest speakers, Lauren and Brent Gunter, both of whom are employed with Louisiana Adult and Teen Challenge. Louisiana Adult and Teen Challenge is a nonprofit faith-based organization that offers an addiction recovery program centered on God and leading people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to freedom from addiction through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Gunters, husband and wife, acquainted club members with LAATC, which has eight facilities across Louisiana, including their long term program facilities for men in Dodson and their long term program facilities for women in Winnfield. Other LAATC facilities are located in New Orleans, Shreveport, Lafayette, Ruston, Morgan City and Minden. In fact, Adult and Teen Challenge has facilities all over the world, including Canada and Russia.
Ms. Gunter, a graduate of the LAATC program and long term employee in the local admission and development office, says LAATC appreciates the support it receives from the Winn Parish community and wants to give back to and become more involved in the community. One way they are doing this is by volunteering to help local organizations with their events, and LAATC staff also participates in programs of our local church family.
This summer, LAATC is also organizing a Back to School Bash and Backpack drive to provide local children with backpacks, school supplies for children to use at home, and gently used school uniforms for families who need a little extra help getting their children ready for the 2022-2023 school year, which begins August 16, 2022. They have reached out to local churches for assistance with the drive, and have BIG plans for the day of the Back to School Bash. It will be held on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at Holden-Henderson Park on Moss Street in Winnfield. This park has a recently installed walking path, new playground equipment, and will have a large tent, a rap performance by a local artist, and fun and games for the children in addition to the backpacks and other items needed for school. The staff of LAATC wants to connect with the children in our community and show them the love of Jesus, and the freedom we can all have in Christ.
According to Ms. Gunter, LAATC will also host a Back to School party for children in Saline on July 30.
Other plans of LAATC in the coming months include their annual Recovery Month Walk-a-thon on September 17, part of Waging War Against Drugs, and a “Kings’ Banquet” in Shreveport, inviting in people who are homeless and treating them to loving and lavish food and service, to connect with people living on the streets, many of whom are addicted to drugs and alcohol. They will be making connections with other organizations to assist in helping people get off the streets.
Brent and Lauren describe the LAATC facilities as peaceful, open and without locks. They do not lock their residents in their premises, and do not force people to enter the program or stay in the program. They show people that there is joy and freedom in Jesus, and the freedom the accompanies Jesus means they don’t need anything else to comfort them or give them good feelings about themselves, their situations or other aspects of their lives. The followup research on LAATC graduates shows that 68% of the Adult and Teen Challenge graduates are still clean one year after graduating from the program.
Mr. Gunter said that the heart of the addiction issue is the need for God, and without him one finds only sin and destruction of oneself and others, there is only hopelessness. Knowing God brings about a change of heart for the participants in LAATC’s program. That is why the main element of the program is to show the love of Jesus to others, and LAATC wants to hit the streets of Winnfield and Winn Parish and do that.
Pictured above: From Left Brent Gunter, Rotarian Mary Lou Blackley, Lauren Gunter