Central Valley Teen Challenge ‘walks for recovery’

The organization hosts annual Walk for Recovery 5K to raise funds, awareness for faith-based drug recovery program Teen Challenge

Some Central Valley Teen Challenge staff lined up for a photo at last year’s Walk for Recovery in Reedley. Photo courtesy of the Central Valley Teen Challenge.
Some Central Valley Teen Challenge staff lined up for a photo at last year’s Walk for Recovery in Reedley. Photo courtesy of the Central Valley Teen Challenge.
Serena Bettis
Published September 8, 2023  • 
12:00 pm

REEDLEY – A regional branch of a global faith-based substance abuse recovery organization is asking for sponsorships and help getting the word out about their programs this September. 

Central Valley Teen Challenge (CVTC) is hosting a “Walk for Recovery” 5K on Sept. 30 as part of National Recovery Month. The walk is meant to help fund the programs CVTC offers to struggling addicts and spread the message that recovery is possible. 

“When we have this walk for recovery one of our goals is to raise awareness … (that) no matter how bad the addiction is, how far down the path of addiction a person has gone, that there’s hope for a person,” CVTC director John Burns said.


CVTC is a branch of Teen Challenge of Southern California (TCSC), which is one of many Teen Challenge organizations across the country. Started in New York in the late 1950s by Reverend David Wilkerson, Teen Challenge organizations are Christian faith-based substance abuse recovery and prevention programs that aid both youth and adults, despite the organization’s name. 

Most TCSC programs are only for adults ages 18 and over, with one facility in Orange County serving adolescent boys ages 12 to 17. 

Burns said that the organization keeps its original name of Teen Challenge even though its scope has expanded to helping adults in order to continue to connect to the legacy started by Wilkerson.

TCSC offers outreach programs and a 12-month residential drug recovery program at locations across Southern California. The CVTC residential program is located in Reedley on Road 44, near the Immanuel Sports Complex. 

According to the TCSC website, the residential programs “address the physical, emotional and spiritual needs” of participants, whom they call students. 

“Over the course of their stay, we provide Christian discipleship classes, individual advising sessions, vocational training, basic computer classes, GED certificate and high school diploma courses and curriculum designed to help each student re-integrate into society,” the website says.

The TCSC general information and induction guidelines state that an application to the residential program must be filled out by the applicant themselves. The residential program is a multi-step process that includes an “induction phase” and a “training center phase,” which lasts for eight months. 

The CVTC location is one of the induction and training centers available for adult men. Burns said TCSC opened in 1963 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary, but the Reedley facility – TCSC’s northernmost center – is much newer and has been open since 2015. 

“Typically folks from the Central Valley in the Reedley-Fresno area would have to go down to Kern County, and we recognized the need to have a Teen Challenge center in the Central Valley,” Burns said. “It’s been a long time coming, so we’re so excited that we opened our doors.” 

There are more than 110 men currently living in the Reedley facility and it is now the largest Teen Challenge center in the state, Burns said.

Program participants are not allowed to have outside jobs, attend outside classes or schedule personal appointments during their time in the induction and training phases due to the “very structured program schedules,” according to the guidelines. Participants are allowed minimal contact with family members, must dress modestly, cannot listen to secular music and can only bring a Bible, concordance or dictionary for reading material. 

The admissions application also requires participants to agree to a sexual/moral standard that forbids “all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage between a husband and a wife.” 

The application and induction guidelines also highlight the fact that TCSC does not provide “medically approved detox.” The induction guidelines state that “withdrawal is achieved without medical assistance” and the application states that if detox is needed, participants must arrange for that prior to entering TCSC’s program. 


Jordan Ali, the operations manager and event coordinator for CVTC, said the annual Walk for Recovery is one of their biggest fundraising events of the year. 

“We offer our one-year residential program to the person that is struggling and seeking help at no cost to the individual seeking help,” Ali said. “We have events … so we’re able to reach out to the community and seek sponsorships.”

CVTC asks local businesses for sponsorships and in turn prints their logos and business names on all of their event materials. Burns said that the organization is 100% privately funded and all proceeds from the Walk for Recovery will go directly to CVTC operations.

“The funds that we use for the walk go straight into the ministry,” Ali said. “It takes care of everything. We have a huge facility out here, so you can imagine the different bills (we have).”

Ali said the cost of one person going through the program is $24,000, though the marketing for the event puts that figure at $15,000. Burns said that the organization’s administration has published the $15,000 figure for many years but recently reevaluated the costs of the program and announced the $24,000 after the marketing and planning for the CVTC’s Walk for Recovery was finished. 

Burns said he knows that’s a lot to ask for, but they are grateful to the community, especially those in Reedley, who have continued to support them. 

“We hope to go another 60 years with community support and to see many lives changed and families restored,” Burns said.

Anyone who wishes to participate in the event can register for free, though they will have to purchase an event T-shirt if they want one, Burns said. 

Other than fundraising, Burns said he hopes the Walk for Recovery will be “friend-raising” and help community members learn more about Teen Challenge, opening up connections for those who may be struggling with addiction. 

“We just want to let people know that we’re here in the community,” Ali said. “We’re here to help; we have beds, (and) if someone needs help, we’re here.”

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter