Auto detailing shop grinds on addictions

Attending a groundbreaking Friday are Andy Collins, executive director of Adult and Teen Challenge of Northern Indiana, and some of the students in the program.

ELKHART — The chance to build a new auto detailing shop is a big win for Teen Challenge, in more ways than one.

Directors, students, board members and donors joined a groundbreaking Friday at Adult and Teen Challenge of Northern Indiana. The faith-based addictions recovery program hopes to have a new $350,000 facility up and running by early next year, which would allow more men to participate and open new opportunities for work experience.

Executive Director Andy Collins said the expansion on the campus at 1111 W. Bristol St. shows that the men in the program are worth investing in. 

“This building is more for us than just a bigger building. It’s part of our culture,” he said. “I don’t measure big wins in new ventures, though they are something to celebrate. I measure big wins in lives.”

He was also joined by Gary Blackard, president of Adult and Teen Challenge USA. Blackard was one of several people who offered a prayer during the groundbreaking.

“The potential of what God is doing on this campus is amazing,” he said. 

The auto detailing shop helps generate funding for the program and has been part of Teen Challenge in Elkhart almost from the start. It currently operates out of a small building with a single bay door, and can only handle two cars a day.

The new building will be able to fit eight cars a day, with as many as 20 men working.

Collins said the shop is something that every participant puts some time into. It’s a way to see where they’re at, before giving them other responsibilities.

“Every man that walks through the doors of our ministry, the first thing that we do is we want to determine where they’re at, mentally, physically and emotionally,” he said. “And so we need a safe place for them to go and integrate into the work experience program.”

After a student has worked in the shop for at least 30 days, they may be given other duties on- or off-campus. Teen Challenge also operates a greenhouse and runs a lawn mowing service.

Once the vehicle cleaning company moves into the bigger building, the old one can be used to host a new welding program. Collins said it will eventually include training and manufacturing.

“We live in a manufacturing community,” he said. “We believe that if men could also graduate not just with a spiritual component, but also with a certificate or something that would give them not just marketability, but a greater sense of worth and dignity as well as a future, potentially, that that could be a great big win.”

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