Special Thanks to:

Special Thanks: Dianna Schnekenburger. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I sent out a wish list of things that we needed for the Youth Center? On that list was ping pong paddles. Our paddles were more tape than original material, but there were other things that we were more interested in spending money on. Dianna brought in some nice, new paddles and the ping pong table is singing again. Thanks Dianna!

Pick. Click. Give!


The New Year has arrived which means that Alaskans can now apply for their 2014 PFD's. While applying there is an option to donate part of your dividend to non-profits doing amazing things...like Joel's Place. It is a quick and easy way to invest back into the community. As an added bonus, everyone who gives through Pick.Click.Give will be entered into a drawing to receive a 2nd PFD. Follow the link below to apply for your dividend and sign up for Pick.Click.Give. Thank You!

Please support Joel's Place with a Pick.Click.Give. donation. Thank You!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Talking to People is a Funny Thing

I had a Board Meeting yesterday.  Lots of fun; ideas and laughter were flowing.  However, we were talking over ways to share Joel's Place and increase the visibility of the organization and I said, "Here's an easy thing that you can do: Share my blog on Fridays when it comes across your facebook feed.  That is a really simple way to let other people know what Joel's Place is and get a window into how we serve the youth of this community."  So I probably have a lot of first time readers visiting this site today.  And it strikes me that I need to make a really good impression so that those first time readers will return...and the post needs to be insightful and funny and moving and serious and provocative and informed and short, but not too short...I may be a little nervous for the imagined flood of visitors who will decide whether to support Joel's Place or shun us forever based on their next three minutes of reading.

(Taking a step back to find perspective and composure...)

Hi.  Welcome to Joel's Place: Live and Unplugged.  Whether this is your first time visiting this site or you are one of the regular readers, thanks for dropping by to spend a few minutes hearing about Joel's Place Youth Center.

Talking to people is a funny thing, especially talking to people about things that are important to you.  If someone asks you what you had for dinner or what the weather is like or how old your kids are, the answers are fairly clear and the conversation progresses neatly.  If someone asks you about a deep theological question or about your hopes and dreams for your child, those answers take some more discerning.  And really it is discerning both your answer of the question and discerning the other person.  How much do they actually want to know about your opinion?  Are they asking in order to fight or to be polite or because they really desire to know.

This is what happens with me when someone asks me, "What is Joel's Place?" What I have to do is gauge what they really want to talk about so I have come up with the one sentence, one minute and five minute responses.
  • One sentence response: "Joel's Place is an indoor skate park and youth center for high-risk teenagers."
  • One Minute response: "Joel's Place is a youth center for high-risk youth.  We drew 1,100 teens in last year with skating, BMX biking, inline scooter sessions, free food and concerts.  We want it to be a safe place where kids can have a ton of fun while developing the assets that they need in order to thrive in the world."
  • The Five minute response simply expands on the One Minute explanation by talking about 600 homeless teens in the Borough and life skill/job skill developmental opportunities and the values that are learned through extreme sports and parallel play and our partnerships in the community and the 6,500 meals that we served in the past year and our Bone Builders Backpacks program and the amazing staff that we have and the stories of life transformation that we have after 15 years of service to this community.
If someone is asking about Joel's Place it is usually because they have heard rumors about us and they are invested in the success and development of teens.  They may want to give of their time or their money or they may want to donate some things that the Center can use.  They may just want to file away this information for future conversations.  They will not be able to do any of those things if I...and if you...cannot explain what Joel's Place is coherently.

If you are a supporter of Joel's Place in any way (donor, parent, alumni, volunteer, etc.), take a moment.  Ask yourself how you would answer, "What is Joel's Place?" 

Feel free to share this post with someone and when they ask you the question, you will already know what to say.