Having a trusted mentor and a supportive community can make a huge difference in the lives of youth. Supportive, healthy relationships are both immediate and long-term, and can contribute to a host of benefits. This could be increased high school graduation rates, healthier relationships and lifestyle choices, decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use, and more. In high-risk communities, these relationships are even more valuable.
Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net), a leader in missional youth outreach for 78 years, is dedicated to fostering meaningful relationships with youth in order to bring them closer to the Gospel of Christ. YFC Denver Area has been working with youth facing a number of pivotal moments for seventy years. They are poised to make an even greater impact in the community.
YFC Denver Area Parent Life and City Life Site Director, Alexandra Straughter says, “Many of the youth in our area are living in circumstances they have no control over. Violence is on the rise. Their parents often work late hours to make ends meet. Many youth are teen parents themselves and are struggling to raise a child.”
YFC Steps in to Help
“YFC is excited to launch a new community center in the coming months that will be a safe space for youth. It will be a place of rest and empowerment for kids in need. We hope for struggling teens to walk in and immediately feel the Lord’s presence resting there. It is important that they feel seen, valued, loved, and cared for just as they are. The primary purpose of the space is to host afterschool programs and weekend events. This could be as basic as a safe space to hang out or as difficult as a place where teens can meet with their parole officers in a neutral location.”
Youth For Christ Denver Area has positioned itself as a resource for youth in the community for seven decades. Through unique resources, YFC Denver Area is making a difference in the lives of youth through powerful mentoring connections.
Making the Difference: Gavin’s Story
“There is one 16-year-old kid who was out on bond for a pretty serious charge,” Straughter said. “He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He took the fall for a group of people who were bad influences. My husband works with our City Life ministry and shares a very similar story and they really connected. He was able to form a mentorship relationship with this student and walk alongside him through the entire sentencing process.”
Straughter says, “In court, my husband stood up in front of the judge and gave his feedback about how he witnessed the student grow over the past three months. He was doing well in school, had a steady job, and had letters of recommendation from several people. The judge commented that he rarely sees a mentor step up and speak on behalf of kids in the system, which spoke volumes to him. This student was facing ten years of incarceration. However, the judge was so impressed with how he had grown and that his mentor was willing to step up on his behalf that he only received one year probation. Since that amazing trial, this student told my husband that he’s one of the only people he can count on in times of need.”
Straughter concluded, “Mentoring can make a huge difference in the lives of youth who are desperate to create meaningful relationships. We have a unique opportunity to show that that we are not going anywhere, despite what has happened in their past. They are not just a teenager, but a child of God.”
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