PITTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- It was on this day 14 years ago when Sherrie Daisey walked out of the doors at Mission Teens with a new lease on life.
"Literally this will always be my second home," she said. "This is the place that saved my life."
Daisey underwent surgery as a teenager, which sadly led to a pain-killing pill addiction. Over the years, she struggled with anorexia, bankruptcy, and more. But as she reached the age of 30, she recalls losing everything overnight.
"I had tried to commit suicide numerous times. I had been in and out of programs. I had lost my nursing license. There was nowhere for me to go," she said. "Found out about Mission Teens, never knew about it, and when I walked through these doors, people gave me hope that I could live."
Daisey completed the 8-10 month program, which features bible study and other personal development training. Shortly after, she became a teacher with the program and continues to be involved. She credits the presence of God in her life to her overwhelming success.
"Once things started to change in me, I started to love again. I started to dream again," she said. "They helped mentor me through the process of getting my nursing license back. I got married, I'm a foster mom, and now I work in dialysis and I love it."
Daisey is just one success story out of many. According to their website, Mission Teens hears back from about 57% of graduates and, of those, roughly 87% are doing well.
Assistant Executive Director Taylor Box is one of those people. He also found his way out of addiction and into a leadership role at the South Jersey location.
"The entire program at Mission Teens is operated by individuals that have actually gone through the program, all the way from our executive director down," said Box. "We all live here on-site, just really giving back what was given to us."
Mission Teens was started in 1969 as a prayer group that attracted teenagers with drug addictions. The founder, Reverend James D. Bracken, bought a property in Salem County to offer long-term residential housing and classes. It attracted all demographics from various parts of the community and country.
In fact, it was the success of a participant from Alabama that led to the creation of Mission Teen's second location. Over the last 50 years, it has grown to more than 20 locations nationwide.
But it all started on the side of a quiet road in Norma, New Jersey.
"This building has served us well for five decades, but we're outgrowing it," said Box. "We just know that the time is now to continue to try to meet that need in a greater way."
That expansion almost occurred decades ago, when a 20,000 square-foot property was built on the property in the early 1980s. However, the funds allotted to the building's completion were eventually diverted to establishing locations across the country.
"We expanded, we just expanded it in different ways," said Box. "So, the hope and the desire is to continue to get back to the vision of expanding here at the Norma center, however that looks."
The faith-based ministry continues to operate free of charge thanks to community support and donations. All participants must be 18 years of age or older. To learn more about Mission Teen's services and how to get involved, visit their website.