From running security gates to catering lunches to helping out with on-site maintenance, Teen Challenge New England was an integral cog in making the Camping World RV Sales NASCAR weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway a tremendous success.
Teens from Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire put in more than 1,500 community service hours over the last couple months and leading right into and through race week. Teen Challenge is one of the oldest, largest, and most successful non-profit rehabilitation programs of its kind in the world.
"We can't get ready and provide our guests with the kind of service that they expect without the help of Teen Challenge," said the speedway's Director of Maintenance, Steve Fay, who worked first-hand with members of Teen Challenge Maine (Augusta). "This group is more than just a part of the workforce; they're a part of our speedway family."
Under Fay, a group of 16 teens helped groom the speedway and make it pristine for campers, fans and NASCAR officials. On property for the last two months, Teen Challenge Maine was influential in preparing the Magic Mile to host tens of thousands of guests and five races in three days - doing everything from planting flowers to painting to setting up hundreds upon hundreds of rubbish barrels.
The same can be said of Teen Challenge Vermont (Johnson), which worked first-hand with Director of Security Mark Furlone and Assistant Director Ray Burke.
"They work long hours without complaint, which in itself is admirable," said Burke. "Working the main entrance, the crosswalk and tunnel areas are often thankless jobs as guests do not like to be delayed or re-routed - but they do it with a smile. Team challenge is a valuable asset to our operation, no question."
Lisa Hanson, Office Administrator for Levy Restaurants - the speedway's on-site food and concession service - echoed Burke and Fay's sentiments.
"They help with pre- and post-race cleanup," said Hanson, who also noted that they help with culinary duties, dishes, prep work and staffing. "They're a huge part of our team. They're wonderful, work really hard. We honestly couldn't do it without them."
Teen Challenge is structured to allow flexibility in meeting the needs of those whose lives have been shattered by addictions. Its mission is to provide youths, adults, and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to drug, alcohol, and other life-controlling problems in order to become productive members of society. As compensation for their time, Teen Challenge New England receives a donation from the speedway, which in turn is used to support the program.
The work program, like the one at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, provides teens with an opportunity to not only build character but resumes, too. Having a particular skill (like landscaping or security detail) makes the transition out of the program and into a career practically seamless.