Area business leaders were invited to attend the fifth annual Teen Challenge of the Four States Business Breakfast on Tuesday.

The event was held at Teen Challenge’s facility, 18527 E. Highway 86, Neosho. Those in attendance were given an overview of Teen Challenge by the center’s executive director Jim Lowans.

Nationally, Teen Challenge started in 1958 as a preacher with a mission to convert gang members and give them a place to restart their lives. Today, the organization helps residents 
overcome addictions through its 14-to-16 month program.

“[Residents] stay four months with us here in this facility and then they transfer to Phase 2 of the program, which is an additional 10 months,” said Lowans. “Teen Challenge does have facilities for women, we also have facilities for teenage boys and for teenage girls. And all of the facilities are long-term residential.”

Lowans said the program has a high success rate.

“For those who that complete the entire program, our success rate is more than 80 percent,” he said.

Kevin Wilson, president of Legacy Consulting Group, LLC, was the guest speaker at the event. He talked about two things: area economics and a mission trip he took to Senegal, Africa.

“On the economic standpoint, I think Southwest Missouri and particularly this area, are very well poised as recession finishes up, [to] have a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I think that we are real poised for development, I think that we have leaders in this town that are interested in economic development that have a vision for where we want our town and this area to go.”

Wilson said the area has a strong work ethic.

“I think that we still have people who want to be held accountable and do the work,” he said.

Wilson then spoke about his two mission trips to Senegal, Africa.

“Teen Challenge is all about second chances and how one man, or one woman, or one organization can make a difference and that is really Open Doors Foundation of Neosho that I go with,” he said. “One person can make all of the difference in the world. I think that God places you in positions where you can be used if you are willing to be used.”

Wilson talked about how a little girl in Africa who, at the age of 3, had fallen into a fire and burned her hand.

“The illustrations I used were actually physicians that made a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “But everyone who went on the trip had their part to play, had their role and in their individual ways they contributed to everything that happens. I think that the message is it doesn’t have to be a single great event for you to make a difference. The little things people do every day add up to make a difference in people’s lives. And that is what people don’t understand, they think ‘well, I can’t go to Africa, I can’t do this, I can’t do that’ and they don’t realize that often times it is just the little things that we do every day that have a huge impact on people’s lives. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change your part of the world.”

Also during the Tuesday event, Lowans presented an award to Neosho Area Business & Industrial Foundation, Inc. (NABIFI).

“Last year, we decided that we wanted to start to recognize organizations who have assisted us,” said Lowans. “Last year, we were privileged to be able to recognize Clark Funeral Home, when they contacted us and said, ‘we would like you to take care of our cemetery.’

“Several years ago, NABIFI decided that they would like to see five or six parking lots in Neosho kept beautified during the year with flowers and keep the bushes trimmed, cleaned up. It seemed like that was not happening. So NABIFI stepped up, said that they would put money out to have that done, and that they would like to hire Teen Challenge to do that. So about three years ago, we began to take care of the parking lots throughout Neosho.”

Teen Challenge of the Four States began in 1992.