It's tough being a kid in today's world. For those kids lucky enough to have a strong support system, life is still tough.
But what about those kids whose support systems aren't as strong? Where do they turn to?
Last school year, over 500 Delta County students made a connection to a caring adult role model through Delta County Young Life. "A kid comes to club because they have a relationship with one of our adult leaders," said Ty Gallenbeck, the area director for Delta County Young Life. "The Young Life volunteers and leaders could very well be the only adult who has ever shown a loving interest in these kids."
Young Life's adult volunteer leaders are successful at building relationships with kids because they enter their world. They spend time on school campuses, get to know kids, and spend time together at Young Life camps and other off-campus activities. "Our adult volunteers are accepting of all kids for who they are, despite their beliefs or their current lifestyles," Gallenbeck said. "We love them for who they are, and we're excited to see who they will become."
The Young Life program has been in Delta for about 20 years. Over the years, more students have been introduced to a Christ-centered life through the "organized chaos" that is Young Life. Currently, each week about 60 kids meet for the Delta club meetings. Between high school students and WyldLife students (those in grades 6-8), over 237 students attended a club meeting or event at the Young Life House in 2013.
The mission of Young Life is to reach every kid. "So that means our goal is to continue to expand our outreach," Gallenbeck said.
In the last year, staff and volunteers have added a club in Cedaredge and have made a push to involve more Latino students. Now, about 30 percent of the weekly attendees are Hispanic. Between the Delta and Cedaredge clubs, about 110 students attend weekly.
Students who attend Young Life are plugged into area churches to continue their spiritual education and relationships. Volunteers have been able to get four times as many students into churches as they were doing four years ago.
This past summer, during the annual camping trips, volunteers took 19 high school students and 11 middle school students on trips — the largest number of Delta area kids who've attended a Young Life camp in four years. And while all kids had a life-changing experience, 14 of those students made a first-time commitment to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"These are kids who have never gone to church. That's why I love Young Life ... it's designed to reach out to unsaved kids," Gallenbeck said.
In the coming year, he and his volunteers plan to continue to reach out and build relationships with special-needs kids, teen moms, and into the North Fork Valley. "There are thousands of unreached kids in Delta County," he said. "We want every adolescent to have the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ and build a relationship with him."
If their mission is to grow, they are succeeding.
Delta residents Cheryl and GW King have seen Young Life grow. Both their sons have attended the club in Delta. The Kings believe so much in the work Gallenbeck is doing that they became monthly givers to the organization and also sit on the advisory team.
"In our small town, if we can get any activities that kids enjoy, where they are in a supervised environment that keeps them out of trouble, we have to support it," said GW. "This is one community project that kids love to go to and it gives them stability. This is why we are a monthly contributor. We know how much good it does for the kids."
Because of the work of the staff and volunteers and the incredible growth Young Life has seen in the last four years, the goal of the advisory team is to reach new supporters. Currently, over 400 families, businesses or community groups give annually to Delta County Young Life. The advisory team hopes to find 75 new monthly donors of $35 or more a month.
"The more support we get at all levels — volunteer leaders, adult advisory team, donors, prayer support, church partners, the more people who are involved — the more we are able to reach more students. That's the bottom line," Gallenbeck said.
"Delta County is a community that deeply cares about their students," he continued. "That's evident of the long history of Young Life. This is an organization that people care about and value. We appreciate that, and we thank our current supporters. They know that Young Life Club could be the only time, even if it's only once, that some of these students get to experience the love of Christ in a way that they understand.
"We could not do that without our supporters."
If any of this has touched you even a little, we encourage you to get involved as a volunteer or as a monthly giver. Ty Gallenbeck can be reached at 216-5680; the Young Life House is located at 1009 13th Street; the website is www.YoungLife.org; or find them on Facebook at DC YoungLife. Monthly giving can be mailed to the House, or made online by selecting Delta County.blog comments powered by Disqus