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Right Choice appeals to teens

December 29, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY - While Winston Herbst and his wife, Susan, have realized their dream of establishing a youth-based ministry at their Breezy Acres Farm on Old Forge Road, they have bigger dreams for the future.

"We call our effort Right Choice Ministries," Winston Herbst said.

And that's just what they are hoping to accomplish - helping young people make good choices in their life journeys.

Incorporated in 2003, Right Choice Ministries is a 501(c) nonprofit organization.

Now operating out of their home, the Herbsts have been opening their family room and kitchen to teens on Saturdays from 6 to 10 p.m., and to young adults every other Sunday from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

Plans are to turn an existing farm building near the house into a center that will be open six nights a week. There also is space nearby for outdoor activities in good weather.

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Youth directors at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren for 32 years, the Herbsts now attend Ringgold Church of Christ.

"When we stepped down, the kids came with us," Susan Herbst said.

Tracey Lapole was at Hagerstown Church of the Brethren. And when they left, "I followed them here," she said.

Susan Yano said she has had one of her children in the program.

"My other children want in so bad," she said. "It's Christmas year-round here."

Four years ago, Winston Herbst started organizing plans for the four-state youth ministry/church, and it has been evolving ever since.

There is peer-to-peer counseling, time for homework and whatever else the young people who attend seem to need. Life skills such as Internet safety, drug awareness, anger management, finance training and parent-teen relationships also are components.

"We have prayer and Bible study, too, and we go on trips to amusement parks and the National Zoo," Susan Herbst said.

Usually, 30 to 35 youth attend the weekly gatherings in the farmhouse.

"We have an 11-room house - our kids are grown and gone," Susan Herbst said.

Right Choice Ministries is nondenominational - a haven for youth to chill and talk, and feel comfortable and safe, Winston Herbst said.

"All are welcome," Susan Herbst said.

Norma Bigham of AMRON Unlimited of Chambersburg, Pa., has been recruited to develop a capital campaign for Right Choice Ministries.

The first stage is the continued refurbishing of the large building next to the Herbsts' home. The next stage will be to expand the scope of the RCM Family Conference Center.

The capital campaign, which hopes to raise $1 million, will be launched at a spring community dinner along with a direct mail effort.

The Herbsts' son and another person organized the Right Choice Ministries Web site.

For more information on Right Choice Ministries, call 301-797-8157 or go to www.rightchoiceministries.org.

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