San Francisco Teen Challenge

Center History


How it all started.

In the early 1960’s, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district near Golden Gate Park was evolving into the Hippie Movement. Heroin and found increased usage in the Hippie community, as did marijuana, LSD, amphetamines, and barbiturates.  Community and church leaders began searching for an answer to these problems. David Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge suggested itself to several Christian leaders in Northern California as a solution. Steve Asmuth, who was president of the Youth Department of the Assemblies of God in Northern California, sat down with the pastor of Glad Tidings Temple in San Francisco, Floyd W. Thomas, to discuss the possibility of opening a Teen Challenge in San Francisco.  The two men were so enthusiastic, they contacted Dave Wilkerson.  With Dave’s advice, a board was formed, and 40 men were gathered and housed in Glad Tidings Temple in 1961 in what was called the “Craig Building.”

San Francisco Teen Challenge (SFTC) was legally incorporated in Northern California in 1964.  Toward the end of that summer an old Victorian house was found in the city’s Mission District, on South Van Ness Ave.  The board obtained the building for $38,000 and appointed Mr. Don Abbot as Director.  In late 1971 the property at South Van Ness was sold and a much larger facility at 1464 Valencia Street was procured.  In 1972 the board hired Dr. John Ward, a Baptist minister, as the new director.  By the end of 1974, male residents had greatly increased with some 117 entering the program during that year!

In 2010 Ron Jett became the Executive Director and is currently heading our staff.  “San Francisco and the centers around the Bay Area have grown in bed space from less than 100 to over 300! We have tripled our ability to reach the most desperate of society”

For more than 40 years, SFTC has been the springboard for dozens of additional Teen Challenge centers throughout the nation.  Each year, Teen Challenge conducts thousands of presentations in churches, schools and prisons to over 1,000,000 people.

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