Carthage, North Carolina- Adult & Teen Challenge of Sandhills, originally an Induction Center for a network of ATC systems in Pennsylvania, became an independent entity and self-sustained long-term program in 2019. Since its amicable separation from Pennsylvania, the organization has been able to focus on creating new program options and opportunities for students, while focusing on bringing much needed services to other parts of the state. Separating from Pennsylvania did come at a financial cost as the organization had to purchase the properties it operated for over 34 years at the time. That cost-$500,000.
Founder and previous Executive Director, Sal DiBianca had one goal before retiring and hiring new Executive Director, Russ Cambria to lead the ministry into the future-to leave the organization debt free! DiBianca began raising funds to “Burn the Mortgage” after meeting with State Senator Tom McInnis, who quickly offered his support. Sen. McInnis, who remembered the connection of Adult & Teen Challenge to the movie, The Cross & the Switchblade, the story of David Wilkerson’s journey to NYC in 1958 to help gang members on trial, fought hard to obtain an earmark in the 2022 North Carolina State budget for the organization in the amount of $200,000. “We know the Adult & Teen Challenge program gets real results.” said McInnis. An endorsement like this helped foster additional support. Rep. Jamie Boles of the North Carolina House of Representatives joined McInnis in helping secure support for the grant. The two officials presented DiBianca and Cambria with the check during a recent visit to the campus.
The Board of Directors originally set a goal to pay off the mortgage in five years. However, in addition to the state grant, local churches, businesses, and supporters with contributions large and small all worked together to assist the organization in meeting its goal three years early! Cambria, noted “Without the faithful support of churches, our donors, and business owners who gave sacrificially over the last few years, we would not have reached this goal in such a short period of time. We have some amazing people who really love us, our students, and the work our team is doing.”
Larry Caddell, Chairman of the Board touched based with Cambria and the other members of the board shortly after the funds were received reminding everyone, “Today is living proof that when we ask, He answers.” Caddell, on a follow up phone call to Cambria expressed his sincere appreciation and thanks for McInnis and Boles for their generous support and ended the call by reminding the new leader, “now go pay off that note on Monday!”