Residents come to Tennessee Valley Teen Challenge with substance abuse and behavioral problems. These individuals need to break old patterns of behavior and develop new, healthy habits over a long period of time to make them permanent. Learning work and job skills, reinforced with lots of practice, is fundamental not only to empowering residents economically in preparation for future employment but also to build healthy life habits. Thus, a key component of Tennessee Valley Teen Challenge is the Work Experience Program. This teaches residents work ethics and principles with activity daily from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.
The Work Experience Program involves many various opportunities. Residents may work at the center learning food preparation, kitchen management, janitorial, grounds maintenance, skilled maintenance repairs, and light electrical skills. Teams also work in the community performing construction, painting, flooring, tiling, roofing, car detailing, landscaping, and tree cutting. A paid staff supervisor leads the work crews.
The supervisor requires the men to complete a job application and interview before placement on a work team that operates in the community. This provides practical experience necessary for acquiring employment after leaving Tennessee Valley Teen Challenge. The supervisor also requires the men to sign a contract. The men learn to be punctual, cheerful, and respect authority.
As the residents approach the time when they plan to move out of Tennessee Valley Teen Challenge, assistance is provided in finding permanent employment. Tennessee Valley Teen Challenge works with area employers including Manpower and commercial sign manufacturer, Design Team. Men are assisted in obtaining interviews, provided help in completing a job application, and provided transportation to the interview. Training is provided regarding proper interviewing etiquette and appropriate dress.