Young Life is aging well in celebrating 30th anniversary

Young Life is aging well in celebrating 30th anniversary

Young Life has touched the lives of many students from Garaway High School and now West Holmes High School over the past three decades. The organization will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a gathering March 21 at The Tool Shed at Breitenbach.


Mentoring can be a powerful way to help others through times of struggle or even to rejoice with them in good times. For three decades Young Life has been providing mentors to teens in this area, and it has made a powerful impact on those young adults who opt to get involved with the program.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Young Life is inviting anyone who has been or wants to be a part of the organization to join together for an evening of food, fellowship and fun.

The many members who have been involved with Young Life over the past three decades, whether they have been students or volunteer staff, will unite for an anniversary celebration on March 21 at The Tool Shed at Breitenbach near Sugarcreek to share stories and memories of years both past and present.

The evening will include a social hour from 4:30-6 p.m. featuring Dough Co. doughnuts and coffee from Walkie Talkie Espresso & Coffee, as well as live music by Aaron Troyer of The Blue of Winter. There will be a buffet dinner served at 6 p.m. with a program to follow at 7 p.m.

The program will consist of people sharing stories and memories of the impact Young Life has made in their respective lives. With countless stories to be told, it should make for a trip down memory lane for those who have enjoyed everything Young Life offers in the way of community, fellowship, support, building trust, and most importantly celebrating the joy of friendships and relationships that have been built and developed through Young Life.

According to current Young Life of Tuscarawas and Holmes County director Heidi Troyer, the anniversary celebration will be a homecoming for many.

Over those 30 years, the daily lives of teenagers have changed considerably, and Troyer said she was a youth when she first experienced Young Life.

“There is definitely a difference in the lives of students today as compared to when Young Life first began,” Troyer said. “Life seems to be much more challenging for today’s young adults.”

However things change and evolve in the lives of teens over the decades, the approach of Young Life hasn’t wavered as its mentors have continued the tradition of building relationships.

Troyer said Young Life has always offered a bit of the unexpected because these adults were showing up where teens congregate and giving them support and attention.

“For a lot of kids there is this wondering as to why this adult is showing up and willing to give their time to mentor kids, but eventually as those relationships grow, teens are willing to accept this mentoring and grow from it,” Troyer said. “It is up to us to go to them and to intentionally seek them out by showing up in their world and showing you care. It’s making an investment in their lives, and that investment makes a big difference.”

The seeds for Young Life began 32 years ago when a businessman named Pat Patterson moved into the area and purchased The Swiss Hat Restaurant. He asked about the community’s Young Life program, but that did not exist. He contacted local pastors about getting one started, and Young Life began.

The program has been at Garaway since 1990, and seven years ago it took root at West Holmes High School.

Troyer said over the three decades they have had some really great leadership from adults that have kept the program moving forward. A mix of those people united to serve as the planning committee for upcoming events.

Troyer said their goal was to create an evening that brought back memories from Young Life camping trips, where elements of the unexpected were featured and people shared the joys and trials of their lives.

“We want people to feel like this is an extravagant evening, that God’s love is extravagant, and over the last 30 years, we have seen how he has worked in our communities and in people’s lives,” Troyer said. “We were really intentional about putting together a night that feels like a night at Young Life camp.”

Part of that will include plenty of stories from former students and leaders, some of them via video from members who couldn’t be there. Former YL leader Keith Bernard will fly in from Colorado to join the evening festivities, and they have planned some fun and games to keep the night lively.

“We will have some surprises in there too, so it should be an exciting night of sharing and fellowship as we reconnect with people we might not have seen for some time but who were instrumental in our lives over the years,” Troyer said.

There is no cost to attend the event, but those in attendance will have the opportunity to join Young Life with both financial support and prayer support.

Troyer said they are asking people RSVP if they plan to attend so they can create an accurate head count. Anyone wishing to attend may do so by calling Troyer at 330-204-4455 or by emailing her at

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