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Learning to Fish

Texas candle-making shop enables Teen Challenge students to learn a trade.

The motto of, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” has become the maxim for a new business started under the umbrella of a Texas Adult and Teen Challenge campus.

The residents in the recovery program at the Adult and Teen Challenge of Texas  (ATCOT) women’s campus in Pasadena are learning to “fish” as they work in the handmade candle-making business and gain new skills for future employment. Teaching these women various skills can help them as they look for jobs when they re-enter society, according to ATC Candle Company Director Michael Derrick.

At the same time, staff members are learning how to make the business a part of the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions ministry to help the local campus become more self-sustaining.

The idea to create the candle business came from longtime ATCOT supporters Rodger and Greer Kenworthy, who own a Christian company in Houston, where they manufacture products such as anointing oils and candles. The couple, who are on the advisory committee for the Pasadena campus, have been in the candle-making business for 22 years.

In August 2016, the Kenworthys provided funding to help start the candle company, which is managed by Derrick, along with two of the residents.

Since the launch, Rodger Kenworthy has been training Derrick and some of the residents in all aspects of the candle-making business, from production to sales. According to Derrick, producing these candles includes melting wax at the proper temperature, mixing in just the right amount of fragrance, picking the right wick, curing the candles, and labeling the containers. The finished container candles come in nine different fragrances, ranging from Candy Cane Cupcake to Coffee House.

The women also have been learning other business skills, including inventory control, marketing, sales, and basic accounting, as well as interacting with vendors and suppliers.

Students must complete a certain level of the recovery program successfully before they can work in the candle shop. Many of the women want to work there, so it becomes an incentive, Derrick says.

“If they are progressing well in the program and are a team player, they are eligible to be part of this new team,” he says. “In time, graduates of the program may be considered for paid employment in the company.”

Alaina Foster is one of the students working in the candle shop. She is thankful for a second chance to accomplish something worthwhile after drug addiction took over her life.

“When you’re in an addiction, there are no rules,” Foster says. “For me, it’s all about having a routine every day, but also learning something new and knowing that when I leave (and graduate), I’ll be able to apply for jobs that I’d never been able to before.”

The candles are sold at wholesale to other Adult and Teen Challenge campuses to be used in community fundraisers. Every weekend, students sell them in front of stores, in churches, and other venues, while sharing their testimonies with buyers. Candles will be available to AG churches, bookstores, online, as well as during the 57th General Council in Anaheim, California, in August.


Jennifer Pallikkathayil

Jennifer Pallikkathayil is a public relations professional from Columbia, Missouri, who loves sharing stories of the work God is doing in people’s lives. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University.