Bands and recovering addicts "rocked the flock" with music and testimony Aug. 11 to benefit Maine's chapter of Teen Challenge.

Sponsored by Morrill Baptist Church, the event was held for its second year at the hilltop farm of Katie and Travis Johnson in Thorndike. Food and beverages donated by Bell the Cat of Belfast, two bounce houses and face painting, and booths for T-shirts and information about Teen Challenge offered additional attractions for the many families who attended.

Members of Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast helped out, flipping hamburgers and hot dogs for attendees while bands played and Teen Challenge clients spoke of their troubled life experiences and recovery through Teen Challenge. Volunteers from Morrill Baptist directed car parking, painted faces, supervised bounce houses and generally helped out at the event, which ran from 2 p.m. until dusk.

Participating bands were John Towle, Channels of Blessings, Valerie McFarland, Clayfoot and Exit 244.

Organizers estimated Aug. 15 that about 400 people attended the event, contributing almost $3,000, all of which goes to Teen Challenge.

Faith-based Teen Challenge operates an expanding long-term residential campus in Winthrop where men 18 and older live and work — physically, mentally and spiritually — to overcome their problems with substance abuse. According to its literature, the 20-bed home and its program have been "successfully changing lives and winning the war on addiction for over 10 years."

The 488-acre facility has recently begun to restore a 4,750-square-foot farmhouse, across the street from its original facility, that will add 26 beds, six bathrooms, a kitchen, laundry room, living and dining rooms, academic center, and an addition for a new chapel. The organization has raised $300,000 of the $800,000 needed for renovations; proceeds from this year's Rock the Flock concert will help.

The Johnsons were inspired to get involved after Travis' brother-in-law died of an overdose. "That bore a lot on it," he said.

Katie said, "We had heard of some programs of Teen Challenge and wanted to give something back. We don't have much, but we do have room," she said, indicating the expansive pasture where the event was being held.

Travis and a musician friend, George Gallagher, kicked around ideas for doing something. The Johnsons and Gallagher are members of Morrill Baptist; Gallagher's band, Exit 244, closed the concert with its performance Saturday.

Last year, they got their church involved and pulled the first Rock the Flock event together in two months. This year, they had more lead time to organize it with more involvement of church members and Teen Challenge.

Among those attending the concert this year were Keith O'Brien, director, and John Wilsey, admissions coordinator, of Teen Challenge; Sheriff Jeff Trafton; and Morrill Baptist Pastor Jim Culbertson.

In one of the many conversations going on among attendees about Maine's alarming opioid abuse problem, one man commented, "I find it hard to believe I can get heroin easier than I can get help."

Culbertson replied, "We have to all come together — law enforcement, the medical community, educators, politicians and the spiritual community" to address the issue. "Too often, I feel we work against each other. … As a church, we're trying to figure out how we can help. As a church, we meet people where they are and walk with them on a journey."

The 2017 event drew about 300 people and raised $3,000. Attendance Saturday appeared to be about the same as last year's. No fundraising total was available when this issue of The Republican Journal went to press.

For more information about Teen Challenge, or to donate or arrange a visit to the Winthrop campus, call Director Keith O'Brien at 207-377-2801 or visit tcmaine.org.