Young Life helps students to “make friends, hang out and be themselves, all while learning of God’s love for them.” The club is led by Isaac Nagle of Rocky Mount. Students attending the club sometimes hang out at Nagle’s house.
Friday, November 22, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
Young Life, a national organization that reaches out to local youth, is thriving after its first year at Franklin County High School.
The club is custom made for kids throughout their adolescent years, according to staff associate Isaac Nagle.
"Young Life provides a place where youth can make friends, hang out and be themselves, all while learning about God's love for them," he said.
The idea for a Young Life club in Franklin County first came up two years ago when a Young Life committee, led by Jane Jacobsen, began hosting informational meetings and started to put funding together.
Steve Schmitt, the area developer of Young Life, hosted interest and committee meetings to see if Young Life could be brought to Franklin County. Once it was decided that the organization would be beneficial to the area, Nagle was hired.
Nagle is the only Young Life paid associate in Franklin County. The other three associates work strictly on a volunteer basis. They are Ben Brodin, the manager of Liquid Lube and Wash in Moneta, who moved to Rocky Mount specifically to volunteer for Young Life; Nagle's wife, Becca Nagle, a clinician at Emotional Health Services (EHS) in Rocky Mount, who is working while pursuing a degree in school counseling; and Kerri Styne, an industrial engineer at Integrity Windows in Roanoke.
Nagle moved to Franklin County over a year ago from Blacksburg, where he attended Virginia Tech.
The first official meeting took place in September 2012 in the form of a cookout at Nagle's home.
"Last year was the beginning and was more of an idea," said Nagle. "It has since really taken off."
Nagle said the largest turnout at a Young Life meeting so far has been 80, with the average turnout each week being 50 to 60 high-schoolers.
"As we're getting bigger. We've been receiving more and more requests for programs at the middle and elementary school levels," said Nagle. "That would be a great future plan, but we really want to build a solid foundation at the high school level before branching out."
There is no cost and no formal membership to sign, he added.
"Any high school student who wants to attend a meeting should just simply show up," said Nagle.
Young Life meets Monday evenings at 7:27 p.m. at Shively Electric's community room in Rocky Mount. The meetings consist of games, singing, hanging out and enjoying life, said Nagle.
"It's a very different feel from a typical youth group. The meetings are not formal or formerly structured. I describe it as 'controlled chaos.' It's a place where kids can feel comfortable and let go of their social parameters and just be themselves."
Young Life is not competing with church youth groups and does not exist as a form of church, he added.
"We're going after kids that may not listen in youth groups but, for some reason, will listen to us. We share our faith, but it's not shoved down anyone's throat."
Franklin County's Young Life club is funded by local donors.
"We have a lot of donors in the community," Nagle said. "Families, individuals and churches are all supporting us in different ways. When they learn about the program and see that it is effective and that kids' lives are being changed, they want to show us support."
Donations to the club help cover funds used for the club room, sound equipment, leadership training, camps for the kids, the club banquet and Nagle's salary.
To learn more about the Young Life program, or to make a donation, contact Nagle at 540-392-0943, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit younglife.org.
Tax-deductible donations can also be mailed to Franklin County Young Life, P.O. Box 804, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.