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Our History

The History
of Adult and Teen Challenge

Originally founded in Brooklyn, New York, by Rev. David Wilkerson in 1958, Adult and Teen Challenge has helped many young adults struggling with drug addiction and gang affiliation find hope in Christ and transform their lives. Along the way, we’ve found growth in Christ, as well. Today, we provide over 110 addiction treatment centers across the United States and over 1,200 in 122 countries – making us the largest faith-based rehabilitation network in the world.

Adult & Teen Challenge’s Milwaukee Roots

Addiction Treatment CenterSensing a need in the Greater Milwaukee community, the founders of our Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge addiction treatment centers began meeting in 1983. Led by the Holy Spirit, a faithful group of business leaders and ministers started our first adult residential program in 1989. Over the next five years, we raised enough funds to purchase an old nursing home facility – which became our Men’s Center of Hope. This residential facility became a significant building block for the growth of our Milwaukee programs. In 2002, Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge obtained the used car lot next door to our men’s addiction treatment center. With this new addition, we began our Vehicle Donation Program, allowing our men to learn marketable job skills. Car donations continue to help us raise operational income more consistently today.

Great Lakes Men’s Rehab Program

Our addiction treatment center for men began its first residential program for men on 27th Street in 1983. Several years later, this program moved to 44th and North Avenue on Milwaukee’s north side. The North Avenue facility housed up to 12 men and was opened by Reverend Gene Berres and Bob McDonald.Today, the Great Lakes Men’s Rehab Center of Hope is considered one of the top Adult and Teen Challenge addiction treatment centers in the United States.

Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge Today

Addiction Treatment CenterShortly after celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2003, Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge worked with ministry development experts, BBS & Associates, to help guide our efforts and direct the long-term goals the Holy Spirit has placed on our hearts. Our staff moved swiftly into action, improving all aspects of our adult residential rehabilitation programs over the next ten years. Now nearing our 35th anniversary, we’ve received overwhelming support through financial gifts, donations, and, most importantly, prayer, which allowed us to open our Super Thrift Store in 2017. With this addition, we can provide work therapy training and skill development to our program participants.

Prayers for the Future

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” – Jeremiah 29:12

Throughout the years, we’ve been tremendously blessed to be able to work with men and women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. There’s still great work to be done and many people to reach. We ask that you please keep Great Lakes Adult and Teen Challenge in your prayers as the Holy Spirit directs our programs and ministries into the future. Your support means the world to us.