Special Thanks to:

Special Thanks: Kenny and Mary Priest. This amazing couple has offered to come to Joel's Place on Mondays and clean. Bathrooms, floors, rugs, trash, windows...they are a whirlwind of activity Monday nights and we are so grateful. Thank you two for your service to the kids and the staff of Joel's Place!

April Alumni Challenge Link!

If you are interested in contributing towards our $10,000 goal, you can:
- Give us a call at 452-2621
- Stop by the Youth Center to drop off your donation
- Follow this link to our paypal page

Thanks for all your support in this endeavor!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The April Alumni Challenge

A Quick Update on My Presentation:
      So we did not get the grant.  Not terribly shocking, but still disappointing.  Thanks everyone who offered words of encouragement and support.  There are some amazing organizations that were awarded the money and some amazing organizations that are on the outside looking in.  As I said last week, I had very mixed feelings about applying.  Congrats to everyone who had successful applications and thank you to the Commission who had an incredibly difficult task.

     Now, onto some really good Money News...

April Alumni Challenge!!!

   What is this?  So glad you asked.  Joel's Place has been serving teens for 15 years.  We have been here at 1890 Marika in the form of a Skate Park for a decade now.  Do you know how many kids we have served over that time?  Do you know the long-term impact that we have had on lives?

Neither do we.

One of the greatest things about Joel's Place is that is has never treated its kids like they are just part of a program.  These teens are not statistics.  They are not "The Mission."  These youth are, and always have been, family.  Loud, rambunctious, laughter-inducing, heart-breaking family.  You know what you do with family?  You love them and hold them close.  You check in with them.  You celebrate their successes and mourn their losses.  You know what you do not do with family?  Keep files on them.  Enter them into databases.  Lose track of them.

That brings us to the here and now. Joel's Place has gone through a heavy amount of turnover in the past 15 years.  I only know a small fraction of the faces and the stories that have come through our doors over this last decade and a half.  What I do know is that there are thousands of young adults whose lives have been impacted by this place and I want to find them for a number of reasons:
  • Stories:  Stories are what drive ministries.  Statistics are nice.  Pictures are fascinating.  But a story can connect us with other people from other generations in other places more powerfully than any other medium.  I would love to find more stories about Joel's Place and specifically how those experiences served to alter the trajectory of people's lives.
  • Partnership: We are always in search of partnership.  People who will give of their time, of their money, of their creativity and gifts in order to make Joel's Place a better place for kids.  The best place to look for partnership is among people who have been blessed by Joel's Place.
  • Long-term reporting: Many grants and proposals that I submit have the same question in some form.  "Does your organization make the world better?"  I truly believe that it does...but that tends to not be a sufficient answer.  I would love to be able to point to young men and women in their teens, twenties and thirties who could testify to the benefits of Joel's Place.
  • Mentoring:  I list this one last because it is the most important and needs the most space.  As an adult with some positional authority, my words carry some weight with the youth here.  I tell them to stop and they do.  I tell them the storms of life will pass and they kind of believe me.  If I bring in a 25 year old skater who grew up at Joel's Place...walked the same hallways...got yelled at by the staff in the same way...faced the same challenges and struggles...and has come out the other side with a good job and a solid social life?  Pure gold.  We have 15 years worth of mentors out there.  15 years worth of young people who have struggled through the worst that life could throw at them and made it.  15 years worth of voices of experience and compassion who have walked in the same footsteps as our current generation of youth.  To be able to bring those generations together would be like pouring hope and perseverance and passion directly into the hearts of our kids.  As I said...pure gold.
So why bring this up now?  We have a dear partner, Mr. Dennis Wise, who has offered us a challenge related to the men and women who used to frequent these halls.  He has pledged to match any donation that Joel's Place Alumni make in April, up to a total of $10,000.  Anyone who was a kid here or had a kid here.  Anyone who was on staff here.  Anyone who was on the Board or in AmeriCorps or played shows at Joel's Place over the past decade and a half...if you are older than 18, all of you are considered alumni.  Your gift could be $10 or your gift could be $1,000 and he will double it in the month of April.

This is an exciting proposition for me.  I have been talking to the Board about connecting with alumni for a couple of years now.  The money will help us get back on track after a rough first quarter, but the connections and relationships are the true prize here.  How many mentors and partners are there who could help turn around the lives of these kids?  I am eager to find out.

If you have been connected with Joel's Place over the years and want to participate in this April Alumni Challenge, check back here in a couple of days (when it is actually April) and I will have a link embedded so you can give towards our $10,000 goal or feel free to call Joel's Place, visit our website or just swing by the Youth Center at your convenience.

Finally, I am so grateful to all of you who have come before me that helped to create this amazing place.  Blessings upon you all.