Ron Von Fricken of Beaufort started drinking and doing drugs when he was in the seventh grade. He finally gave it all up at age 32.
"The thing in my life that really gave me the push to change was my son," Von Fricken said. "I did not want him to grow up like me, and I wanted him to be something more than I had been. I rededicated my life to Christ and never looked back, except to pick up the pieces."
Now a licensed minister, Von Fricken is heading up a program to help others get over their addictions. TLC Ministries of Beaufort is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Von Fricken has been working to get started for the past few years. The TLC in the group's name stands for Transforming Lives through Christ, and that's what Von Fricken said the program will do.
"When people receive God and they really start changing their lives, then a true change is made," Von Fricken said. "I'm a result of the program that I'm running."
TLC is based on a program called Teen Challenge International, which Von Fricken has been active in for several years. Teen Challenge International provides youth, adults and children a comprehensive faith-based solution to drug and alcohol addiction and other problems.
In order to participate in TLC, Von Fricken said participants must first choose to join the program, not be forced to do so. They also must be drug- and alcohol-free for a couple of weeks. Then they must commit to staying in the program for a year.
Von Fricken said there are three phases to the program. In the first phase, participants don't leave the facility for much other than to go to church and to work on the program. During the second phase, they work around the facility. In the final phase, they work on their resumes, reconnect themselves with the world and their families, and start to make positive changes in preparation for their entrance back into society.
Several local churches are supporting TLC, but Von Fricken said his group still needs all the help it can get. The building TLC will use to house the program's participants needs a new roof and a sprinkler system. TLC must meet county building codes, but it needs financial support to get it all done. Von Fricken hopes to open the building within a year.
"Our goal is to have a faith-based ministry here in Beaufort County that is helping people change their lives permanently for the glory of God," he said.
For now, Family Worship Center has provided TLC with the free use of its building, the former Sheldon Academy. The building will house 24 residents, including some homeless drug addicts. Von Fricken said this is the only faith-based facility in the area that helps the homeless overcome their addictions.
There has been some concern among nearby residents over the safety of housing drug addicts in their neighborhood, but Von Fricken said it won't be a problem.
"We're not going to be bothering the neighbors," he said. "We want to run a good facility, a safe facility, not only for the residents but for our students."
He said TLC will have a positive effect on the area because it will be taking people off the streets and helping them stay off drugs, and that he's thankful for the neighbors who have been supportive of the ministry. The Zoning Board Of Appeals voted 4-3 on April 23 to allow TLC to use the building for the ministry.
And TLC still is getting some tender, loving care from other area churches. Tidal Creek Fellowship also has stepped up to help. The church recently sold the group a 29-passenger bus for $1.
"The funny thing is we are seeking to have 24 men in this facility," he said, referring to the 29-passenger bus. "Wow! Was that the Lord or what?"