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About Starfish

What is Starfish Project?

Starfish Project was created by concerned community members and pastors in the hope of providing funds to enable individuals with “life-controlling issues” such as drug addiction, to participate in the Teen Challenge Program and obtain a healthy life of recovery and spirituality.

Who does Starfish help?

Starfish Project helps people who have life-controlling issues such as drug or alcohol addictions get to a Teen Challenge facility.

Where can I send a donation?

Donate online?

OR Donations can be sent to Starfish Project, Inc, PO Box 272, Norwalk, Ohio 44857.

I know I need help but I can’t commit to a year program. Do you have anything to help me?

See our list of area non-residential programs.

Teen Challenge

Is Teen Challenge just for teens?

No, the vast majority of centers are actually for adults ages 18 and up. The directory of centers lists the centers and provides the gender and age brackets for each program. Teen Challenge began as an outreach for troubled teenaged gang members over 50 years ago in New York City, but has expanded over the years to include men and women of all ages.  The name “Teen Challenge” has remained and become synonymous with Christ-centered help.

For what kinds of problems do people go to Teen Challenge?

Teen Challenge is a program for people with life controlling problems such as drug or alcohol addictions.

Is Teen Challenge a “detox” center?

TC is NOT a medical detox center. Prayer, rest, fluids, and some over the counter medication is all that we can offer to help you. Most applicants try to avoid use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco while waiting to be accepted. They usually do well once they are in the drug-free environment of Teen Challenge.

Is Teen Challenge a rehab?

No, Teen Challenge is a long term, live-in recovery support and Christian discipleship program. Unlike a traditional medical model rehab, TC does NOT offer medications nor does it have a medical staff.

What if I can’t pay for it?

Although Starfish Project asks each individual if the can pay for any part of the cost, Starfish Project does offer scholarships to those who cannot afford to pay to go to Teen Challenge.

How is Teen Challenge different from other substance abuse programs?

We believe that most addictions are only the symptom of a root cause that is often spiritual in nature. We believe that the life changing power of a relationship with Jesus Christ will fill the spiritual void that may not be addressed in other substance abuse programs.  We do not use 12 step programs, medications, psychological methods, etc.  Instead, we use Biblical instruction, prayer, worship, pastoral counseling, and practical application. Many other valid methods of assisting people with addictions exits, however, we find that they cannot compare to the effectiveness of a relationship with God.

Is Teen Challenge a medical program?

Teen Challenge believes in the faith model and concentrates on focusing attention on God and His will for those that enter the program as well as those who are being assisted in some of the services offered. While recognizing the need for expertise in some areas, Teen Challenge does not subscribe to the medical model of helping an individual involved in drug abuse.

Why is Teen Challenge effective?

Some might say that it is the length of the program (12-18 months) along with the religious environment that helps people kick the habits that have been formed over the years. We believe it is because of something (or someone) we call “the Jesus Factor.” When a person finds a relationship with God everything changes. New priorities, attitudes, reactions, plans and goals in life all add up to real change. New-found life in Christ and learning biblical principles for daily living replace the old lifestyle and the attitudes and behaviors underlying them.

Do I have to be a Christian to go to Teen Challenge?

We understand that people come from all types of backgrounds and beliefs.  It is important that you understand that TC is a Christian faith based discipleship program and you will be required to read the Bible, attend church services, pray and receive Christian instruction throughout your time at TC.  We only ask that if you decide to come to Teen Challenge you are open to God and what He wants to do in your life.  Give Him a chance to show you that He is real and that He loves you no matter what you have done.

Is Teen Challenge based on particular denomination?

Rev. David Wilkerson, an Assemblies of God minister, founded Teen Challenge. Teen Challenge is an interdenominational ministry. We partner with and receive support from individuals, churches, and other ministries across denominational lines to offer Hope in Christ. Our mission is not to convert anyone to another denomination.  Our purpose is to help people find the freedom and deliverance from life controlling problems through the power of Jesus Christ.

How is Teen Challenge funded?

Teen Challenge is a non-profit ministry funded through financial contributions, donations, grants and fundraising events. We also conduct work experience programs, which help raise operating dollars. TC is not a state or government licensed or funded program, and is not covered by private insurance.

How long is your program?

The TC men’s program is a minimum of 12 months. Overcoming life-controlling behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. Change requires repeated exposure to disciplined life skills, and spiritual truths. Each student is evaluated during the program. An unmotivated student’s program may be extended longer than 12 months, due to his own actions or unwillingness to change.

How do I go about being court ordered?

There are a number of different ways this could happen based on the court system and the nature of your case.  Generally, after you are sure you want to go to Teen Challenge, you should contact your lawyer or public defender and inform him of your desire.  Share your applications, brochures, and the TC web site with your attorney so that he can be informed that Teen Challenge is a reasonable alternative to jail or prison. However, because of our faith-based nature, the court is required to give the individual a choice.

Does and adolescent have to be willing to go to your program?

Essentially, yes. As a rule Teen Challenge is a voluntary program. There are several programs that take more difficult adolescents, however, even in those instances a certain level of cooperation must exist.

Do you have licensed counselors?

Teen Challenge staff are not licensed counselors or therapists. Upon entry into the program, each student is assigned a pastoral counselor, or staff mentor to provide individual one-on-one guidance and mentoring determined by that students’ particular needs. Many are Teen Challenge graduates, or people from a variety of backgrounds who have a heart to help hurting people. Out of their struggles and victories, they offer hope. The proven cure for life-controlling problems is based on an individual embracing Biblical principle to spiritually improve the quality of his character.

Can I “detox” at Teen Challenge?

TC is NOT a medical detox center. Prayer, rest, fluids, and some over the counter medication is all that we can offer to help you. Most applicants try to avoid use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco while waiting to be accepted. They usually do well once they are in the drug-free environment of Teen Challenge.

Why can’t I smoke or use other nicotine products at Teen Challenge?

Nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug.  Its use is in itself an addictive behavior that can lead back to other addictive behaviors you want to conquer.  Most students find that our tobacco free environment aids greatly in withdrawal from nicotine. Nicotine patches are allowed for the first 30 days in the program, to aid in withdrawal.

Will Teen Challenge accept dual diagnosis or mentally ill patients?

Generally, all individuals who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol tend to be dual-diagnosis. Teen Challenge is open to assist all who are able to function in a live-in setting. Those that have severe limitations are referred to organizations where they can find the care required for their special needs.

Does ti cost to go to your program and if so, how much?

Costs vary from center to center. Because these fees are set by the local center and their Board of Directors, it would be more instructive to call the local center for more information


Every Teen Challenge has its own visitation policy, but generally only immediate family is allowed contact with the student. Contact between the student and other individuals will be severely restricted for the same reasons as other programs of similar nature.


How can I help?

Some of the committees we have are:

  • Intake Committee – Facilitating intake of addicts who want to go to Teen Challenge.  (You will accompany an intake volunteer and be trained).  This is the heart of the Starfish Project’s mission.
  • Jail Presentations (you will be trained for this ministry)
  • Fund Raising
  • Public Relations
  • Volunteers for functions (like the fair booth)

What are the qualifications for volunteering?

Having a love for the Lord and a love for people.

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