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Teen Challenge cuts ribbon to celebrate new Academic Building

A large crowd gathered last Thursday, March 3, in front of the new Academic Building on the campus of Adult and Teen Challenge Mid America to watch Executive Director James Bolin cut the green ribbon to celebrate the official opening of the new facility.

The original Academic Building had been destroyed by an early morning fire that was discovered at 1 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2020.

Staff and program participants watched as firefighters and first responders worked through the night to put out the fire.

After more than a year, a ribbon cutting ceremony had been planned for Feb. 24, but forecasts of an ice storm forced a week’s delay.

“This has been about a year and three or four month journey to get here,” said Bolin, prior to cutting the ribbon. “We didn’t even know if we were going to build back. I’m so glad now that we did. We’ve had a lot of people involved in making this happen. At the end of the day, the Lord made this all possible.”

The facility is about 6,000 square feet, similar to the former Academic Building. About 75 percent of the $600,000 replacement cost came from insurance; the remaining 25 percent came from donors.

The Academic Building is where lecture classes are held for about 100 students. There are 25 staff members.

Teen Challenge has three phases as it helps young men 18 and older break free from addictions. Phase 1 is academic with lecture classes. Those who want can get their G.E.D. Phase 2 is vocational, where students learn work skills. They work in Teen Challenge thrift stores and for its lawn service. Phase 3 involves spiritual training.

“We look at it as a three-legged stool,” said Bolin. “It takes all three to hold us up.”

Teen Challenge is located at 303 MATC Lane, off County Rd. 621 in rural Cape County. For more information, call 573-335-6508.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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