Concho Valley Turning Point Ministers to Traumatized or Addicted in Community
The small crowd takes their seats as individuals finish cheerful conversations and shake a few more hands. Suddenly the room is completely silent as a man begins to speak enthusiastically of the deeds of Jesus and Moses. The attendants are utterly absorbed in the lesson, soaking up God’s word as much as they can.
This bible study is not a devotional for choir boys or an informal minister’s meeting. In fact, attendees of the devotional include those convicted of drug charges or the alcohol abuse are participating in Concho Valley Turning Point’s programs.
Concho Valley Turning Point (CVTP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people overcome trauma or addiction in their lives. According to executive director of CVTP Travis Mathes, what sets the program apart is its Christ-centered focus.
“Whatever the sin is that has scarred somebody, we want to help heal those people and we do that with a completely Christ-centered focus,” Mathes said. “Our program, especially recently, has just reaffirmed our mission to be completely Christ-centered. We believe that Christ is the answer.”
In short, all of CVTP’s programs are based off biblical principles and focused on providing people with “a new life.”
“We believe the scripture in the bible where it says ‘those who are in Christ are a new creation,’” Mathes said. “And that’s what we try to keep our focus on here with the guys we work with.”
Many who attend participate in CVTP’s curriculum are court ordered to participate whenever they commit an alcohol or drug related crime. Therefore, the organization provides an all-men’s apartment facility for males who are in between homes and jobs. Classes provided by CVTP are for people of both genders, however.
“What we do is offer them that opportunity here,” Mathes said. “They get jobs, they work, they attend our groups, we encourage them to attend church and other groups and make good connections out in society.”
Concho Valley Turning Point was founded in 1994 as an affiliate of Rust Street Ministries. In 2009, CVTP was incorporated as a Texas nonprofit corporation, at which time it also received its IRC 501C3 IRS exemption.
Mathes became involved with the organization after two drug charges and six years in jail, which inspired him to pick up a bible and turn his life around.
“It was a wake-up call the minute I was in jail and I knew that prison was going to be my future,” Mathes said. “I immediately got in the bible, I started using it as a mirror and I started changing my life to match that.”
After Mathes was released, he moved to San Angelo with the intent of building a completely new life. He soon became involved in CVTP when the program was just two 12-step groups that met once a week.
Mathes made the difficulty of starting over completely clear. He also expressed how important support from his family was in the process.
“Some people don’t have a good place to be back to,” Mathes said. “Their start is sabotaged from the beginning. God has blessed our program to the point where we’ve grown that we can be here for people who need that fresh start without it being sabotaged. We’re here, we’re going to offer them every tool in the world that they need to be successful.”
Maria Mejia, the business administrator of CVTP, became interested in the organization due to circumstances in her family. She began to attend classes when her husband struggled with alcoholism in order to learn how to support him better. Furthermore, Mejia also had troubles with addiction in her family as a child.
“It brought a lot of healing to my heart to come here, that’s for sure,” Mejia said. “I believe God opened this door. I was afraid to come in at first, because I didn’t want anything to do with anybody who was an addict because of everything I’d lived through. But it definitely brought a lot of healing to my heart. It was the right place I needed to be.”
CVTP works with child protective services, the parole department, and the probation department. Whenever the court orders for someone to participate in an anger management program, they are often directed to CVTP’s state-approved classes.
“A lot of them are court ordered to be here, and then we try to plug them into other things also and try to lead them,” Mejia said. “Like Travis said, let them know that God is in control and God can bring healing to everything and everybody. We always try to invite them to church or just let them know that everything we do is faith based.”
However, all are welcome to attend any of CVTP’s programs. The organization’s services include a bible study on Monday, Friday, and Sunday nights, a 12-Step program dealing with addiction on Tuesday nights, a similar program Wednesday night at Johnson Street Church of Christ, and an Anger Management class on Thursday from 7 to 8.
The organization is also beginning a new support group for teenage girls called Hashtag Warriors. The young woman aging from around 12 to 17 meet at CVTP’s facilities on Sundays from 3 to 4 p.m. to discuss share their experiences, eat snacks, play games and discuss the women of the bible. As Mathes said, “They come together and they work through whatever problems they’re dealing with in the right way instead of just keeping it in.”
“Those are pretty much the groups that we have, but we’re always looking for volunteers,” Mathes said. “These guys need new connection, they need people to love on them, they need to know that they’re accepted. Oftentimes in our society, people shake their finger at crime and they can’t believe it and the world’s just getting worse and worse. This is a program that counteracts that from the roots.
According to Mathes, people often enter the program broken but leave as something new. Mathes told of a man who entered into the program as an alcoholic who now drives the van for CVTP and mentors its people every day.
“We see it every day,” Mathes said. “We’ve got guys here right now who came in angry, they came in inpatient, they came in alcoholics. If you knew them now, you wouldn’t suspect that about them. They’re just happy, they’re just full of hope. We have many success stories from Concho Valley Turning Point [about those who] are still very active in the program.”
Mathes said the list of those changed by the organization goes on and on. Despite these successes, however, the general public often refuses to believe that those who have gone through the program have changed or that people can change at all.
“Oftentimes what we see is [that people] would write someone like that off until it’s their son or their brother or their parents that are going through it,” Mathes said. “And then they get more [involved] in what we’re trying to do here.”
Mathes implied that it would take a community effort to make a change to both the participants in CVTP’s programs and from onlookers who judge.
“You can have a person that you would be shaking your finger at turn into a person that you’re inviting over for dinner,” Mathes said. “But that doesn’t happen unless we have funding and unless we have people that are willing to get involved in the program and make these connections and love on these guys.”
CVTP does not address the physical issue of addiction first, but rather the spiritual problem of sin. Mathes said that an addiction is a symptom of a problem but that sin is the problem itself.
“Whenever it comes to drugs and alcohol, people say it’s an addiction problem,” Mathes said. “We believe all the problems are just a sin problem. I mean, some people are greedy. Some people are liars. Some people like to drink alcohol more than just a little bit. Whatever affects your life can be worked through.”
Therefore, each of the individuals who pass through the program also develop a relationship with Christ and other Christians.
“We’re not for everybody in that regard,” Mathes said. “There are a lot of places [where] you can go and receive treatment and help without a focus on Christ. But all of our groups are going to have that focus.”
Furthermore, Mathes made the point that one could be free from addiction and miserable. Instead, the CVTP focuses on creating on a happy and Christ-filled lives.
CVTP is currently attempting to reach out to other churches and organizations across the Concho Valley. This would allow CVTP to be able to refer clients to some organizations that provide services to better fit their needs.
“We want us to build connections with all the churches all over,” Mathes said. “Everybody who has a heart for people and has a heart for the downtrodden, we’d like them to plug in with us, even if it’s just volunteer, if it’s in prayer, if it’s just knowing where to send someone.
Building a living facility for female client’s another of the organization’s goals. Furthermore, the program wishes to pay the debt on the men’s living facility.
“The women’s facility, retiring the debt on this facility, it all comes off of donations and the love of the community, the belief in the community that there is hope for those who really want to turn their life around,” Mathes said. “We accept everybody, but we embrace with open arms those who want it. Because we know you can’t make someone want it. But a lot of people want it. A lot more people want it than people realize.”
Making a Difference
According to Mejia, working for the organization is often quite a pleasant experience, especially when she can see the good that CVTP’s efforts create.
“When you see moms reunited with their kids or fathers reunited with their children or with their wives, that’s what makes it all worth it,” Mejia said.
Another one of the most rewarding things about working with the organization is when participants in the program continue to attend after their required term that was ordered by the court has expired.
“That’s really rewarding because you know what you’re doing is something that has actually made a difference in their life and they know it,” Mejia said. “They no longer come because they have to come, they come because they want to come.”
All in all, Mejia is just happy to make a difference through CVTP.
“I’m not only coming in to work to earn a paycheck, I’m actually making a difference in somebody’s life and that gives me the energy, the want to be here,” Mejia said. “When I’m not here, I miss it. I miss the guys. I miss who I work with. I miss what I do.”
Mathes said every volunteer in the program is happy to “hand in hand” with those who are willing to change.
“The fact is, you can’t make someone change if they don’t want to,” Mathes said. “But you can help someone who wants to change every step of the way. It’s rewarding and we have several people who are willing to do that.”
Those willing to participate or follow CVTP’s events have several options. The organization posts information about events or opportunities to volunteer on their Facebook page. Interested parties may also call the office at 325-658-1389, call Mathes at 325-277-0593, or e-mail CVTP at [email protected]. One could even stop by the office on 528 Highland Blvd. on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
“If you’re having issues or know somebody who is and don’t know how to help them, come in, plug in, and just see,” Mejia said. “It’s very good support for you. Give us a call and we’ll see how we can help.”