Special to The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Over a hundred-people gathered at the Uxbridge Seniors Centre on April 1st, to support Young Life’s Fifth Annual Fundraising Gala.
The theme for the night was “Into The Woods”, and the evening was filled with songs and performances given by Young Life teens from North Durham. Many teen leaders and adult volunteers gave speeches about how Young Life has benefited them personally, and how it has benefited youth in the area.
The head of Young Life’s North Durham Committee, Linda Wielinga says, “It is our opportunity to open the doors and let them see what we are all about.”
Later on in the night, Young Life teens auctioned off pies, that were donated to the Gala. A few of the pies were purchased for $150 and a majority of the pies sold for over $50. The money raised during the Gala will go towards Young Life’s budget, which will help cover operational costs, and subsidies for kids who can’t afford to go to Young Life camp.
Ms. Wielinga says a lot of volunteer parents and teens came together to make this gala possible.
“Across the community you got people from grade seven right up to senior citizens that have been involved in putting this together,” she said.
The gala was a joint effort by both Young Life and WyldLife, non-denominational Christian organizations that reach out to adolescents and teens. They create a non-judgmental space where teens can hang out with other teens and teen leaders.
Young life has been around the area for several years and is for teens in grade nine to twelve. WyldLife came to the Scugog and Uxbridge area two years ago and is for youth in grade seven and eight.
Young Life created Wyldlife, after recognizing the need for their services with children attending middle school.
“Young Life is about creating a positive social community for kids to thrive and grow in. And also explore questions about their faith too,” Ms. Wielinga said. “Religion has been taken out of the public-school system, so Young Life creates a safe space where kids can ask whatever questions they have.”
But Young Life isn’t just for teens who practice the Christian faith, Wielinga says.
“It doesn’t matter what a kid believes in, we are going to love them anyways,” she said.
Chair of the Annual Gala Fundraising Committee, Cheryl Helm says the organization was initially brought to North Durham because parents saw too many teens committing suicide.
“There was a lot of deaths and a lot of teen suicides in Uxbridge. Which focused a lot of adults to say we need to bring something into this community,” Helm said.
From there, Young Life was born and has touched the lives of hundreds of teens in North Durham.
“The point of Young Life is to reach out to kids that feel like they don’t belong, and no one really cares about,” Cheryl said.
Although, Young Life isn’t just for at risk youth, it is for anyone and offers a great system of support.
“It is allowing youth to reach out to other youth, to express their concerns and [talk about] the situations there in,” she shared.
Through this type of environment countless teens have benefited from Young Life and want to pay it forward.
Kurtis Griffioen has been a part of Young Life for five years now, starting in grade nine. He is now a teen leader and says Young Life had a positive influence on him during high school, specifically through the teen leaders.
“It was the impact the leaders had on my life that made me want to be a leader now, and because I have benefited so much from it,” he said.
Young Life will be hosting their annual golf tournament, September 20th, at Wooden Sticks Golf Course in Uxbridge. The funds raised, at the tournament, will be going towards financially helping teens afford Young Life camp.
Scugog hosts Young Life club every Thursday night and Uxbridge hosts the club every Tuesday night.
The WyldLife club is hosted by Scugog every other Monday night and by Uxbridge every other Friday night.
Contact Sarah Lowe, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for location details for Young Life and Jessica Morrison, at email@example.com, for location details about WyldLife.