Special Thanks to:

Special Thanks: Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union

We are now selling tables for Ramp It Up, our annual fundraiser. The event is November 14th at Friends Church. It will be a great night with amazing food, pro skater Preston Pollard, and an opportunity to share an evening with an entire room of people who are dedicated to Joel's Place and the youth of our community. Spirit of AK is the first business to purchase a table of 8 seats this year...so they get the special thank you. Let me know if you or your business is interested in sponsoring a table.

Thanks Spirit of Alaska!

Friday, October 17, 2014

10 years

     Where were you 10 years ago?  What was your life like then?  How have you changed in the past decade? 

     Kelli and I were talking recently and she said that she had this realization:  Joel's Place will have influence on the lives of these kids for 10 years, sometimes more.  10 years of a safe, affirming environment.  10 years of free meals.  10 years of lessons and concerts and events and parties.  10 years of mentoring.  The potential for transformation is enormous.

     Where was I 10 years ago?  I was still in Fairbanks but I that was before my 9 year old girl and that was before my 2 year old girl.  That was before I had even heard of autism, much less analyzed what kind of impact it would have on the life of our family.  That was before I worked at Joel's Place, before I worked at Sears, before I worked as a youth pastor at 1st Presbyterian.  I was working two jobs with InterVarsity and Northland Wood during the day and doing what I could to help out around the house in every other spare minute that I could find.  There was not much money and even less sleep to be found around the Menaker house.  We were a couple of years into planting the ministry at UAF and I was dreaming about being a campus minister for the next 20 years.  I had no idea...of so many things that were to come. 

     In the past ten years I have learned how to laugh and have fun; how to have authentic conversations and authentic faith; how to lead instead of dictate; how to let go of despair and cynicism; how to speak in public and write in private; how to listen without judgement and advise without a desperate neediness; how to build a plan; how to hope; how to suffer with grace...and how to braid hair.  It's not a bad list.

     Just imagine how the life of a young person can change in 10 years.  Imagine the difference between a 10 year old boy and a 20 year old man.  Imagine he has had an entire support network investing in him and building him up for a decade instead of being abandoned and left to his own devices.  Imagine all the thousands of pounds of food he will have eaten that have kept his mind sharp and his body growing.  Imagine the hours that he will have devoted to his body, developing his strength and his skills and his confidence.  Imagine what new passions he might have discovered...maybe an instrument, maybe a field of study, maybe a profession or a hobby. 

     10 years is a long time for anyone, but for a teenager in those formative years?  Pure gold. 

     Thanks for supporting Joel's Place as we play this long game with these amazing kids.