By Tom Cook, Sioux County Area Director

There is a saying that it only takes one caring adult to make a difference in a student's life. At Youth for Christ we believe this 100%! We also believe that caring adults need people in collaboration with them behind the scenes. A team that provides the tools or resources for the adults to foster a successful transformational relationship with students on a mental, physical and spiritual level. Another way to state collaboration is partnerships. Around Siouxland partnerships are vital for the Youth For Christ mission, which is to reach the lost and forgotten 11-19 year olds of this generation for Jesus. 

Here in Sioux County we have families, individuals, churches, and businesses who have been partnering with us for 5 years now. For example some provide meals, snacks, bikes, financial resources, volunteer time, prayers and other resources. These resources are extremely important to operate our mission in reaching students in our local communities. It is such a blessing to see our partners using their God-given time and resources to give back and impact our students in this community. 

One of the obvious ways like-minded individuals, organizations and churches partner with YFC in Sioux County is through their financial support. Whether that is through a one time or monthly recurring donations, this type of partnership invests in the needed capital to run our ministry programs. In Hawarden we operate ministry out of our City Life Teen Center building. Two staff members oversee programming, communications with the community and our partners; and recruit, train and develop a team of volunteer ministry leaders building Christ-sharing relationships with students. All these take financial investment of resources to operate.

People also choose to partner with YFC through investing their time. Whether that’s at the Teen Center, during community events or a YFC Day Camp, they are very important partnerships in this ministry. Every Thursday five volunteer ministry leaders show up at the Teen Center to join our staff to invest a few hours into building relationships with students. They use their time to hang out, play games and talk with the students building friendships and trust. Our ministry leaders are the heart and soul of this ministry. The more ministry leader volunteers we have, the more relationships we can build with students.  

Grants at the community or county level are other important partnerships that have made a huge impact in how we serve our students. We know students are looking for creative outlets, so we are blessed to receive local grants to fund and maintain an Arts and Craft program. We have also used local and county grants to fund and provide Family Meal Time (FMT for short). At FMT we provide students an opportunity to learn meal preprepation, table setting, manners and more. We also provide them a healthy family style meal, which many students don’t do at home. And when we have leftovers, they take food home to their families. Lastly, our Economis financial incentive program that teaches students financial responsibility has greatly benefited through local and county grants. Without the partnering of these grant providing organizations, some of our programs would not be able to run with the excellence that they do. 

We have been blessed in all our ministry center communities around Siouxland. In Hawarden our local churches and individuals continue to partner with the Teen Center to provide food to help take care of the students' physical needs. Whether it's providing a meal or a snack, local churches and individuals prepare and serve the meals for Family Meal Time. Additionally, we have gracious people in our community who provide thousands of cookies for our Snack Giveaways, meat from various farmers for events and meals at the Teen Center. We are so thankful for food donations, because these snacks or meals may be the only food our students receive after school. 

With our Teen Center being located on the edge of town, school bus transportation is a huge deal for our students getting here. We are grateful for a partnership with an individual that repairs bikes and then brings them up to the Center. We then give them away to students in need of transportation. Without this partnership many of the students during the spring days of the school year and summer vacation would have no way to get to the Center. 

I am probably missing many more people, churches, business and organizations in the community partnering with Youth for Christ. We are so blessed with our vital partnerships reaching students with the love of Jesus. We not only want to touch students’ spiritual needs, but also their physical needs. This is why collaborating or partnering with our communities is so important around Siouxland. Thank you Hawarden, Sioux County, Siouxland and beyond!