We Could Open Our Doors

In late summer of 2022, I met Christian. It began with, “Dab me up bro!” referring to a handshake. Then he asked, “What is this place?” I answered, “This is a youth center. A place for you and your friends to enjoy.” “OK! When does it open?” I told him about our process with the City which I’m sure sounded like a bunch of ‘gobbleygook.’ Over the next few months Christian and many other kids would stop by for some hot chocolate we served in the morning. As we continued to give dabs, high fives, and knuckles, the question remained, “When are you opening?” And then it happened… We got the official word we could open our doors to the public! Christian was so excited and began telling his friends about the youth center across the street from school. Now that we are open, we sit and have a time of devotions and Christian does not sit still very well, but Christian was listening more than I ever thought. One day he asked, “Can you pick me up for church?” He put on his boots, nice jeans, and cowboy hat and received many compliments for how well he’s dressed. I asked the Sunday School teacher how well he did the first time, she said, “He was the biggest help!”
 
Jesus is working in Shady Cove. Through your prayers and financial partnership, we serve food, play games, share devotions and even pick young people up and take them to church at 71Five Campus. Thank You!
 
WILL ARIAS,  71Five Campus Coordinator – Shady Cove
541.841.6400 | will@71Five.org
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Traffic Stop

This tricky situation turned into a teachable moment. One night I was driving a handful of 71Five students home when we were stopped by a police officer. The officer was understanding and courteous, but some of the students wanted to make comments after the officer pulled away. I heard comments like, “they’re wasting our time” and “they have nothing better to do. When I was about to interrupt and tell them how the officer was doing his job, one of students mentioned his uncle was a local police officer and he wondered if the two cops knew each other. I asked what it was like and he said, “It’s cool mostly, but it can be scary sometimes.” The van went quiet for a few seconds before we talked some more. It was the right time to open their eyes to what it means to lay your life down. Each of the students shared how someone sacrificed for them, and a newfound appreciation came to light.
 
Even in the tricky situations, God shows up to teach. If you are the officer from that night, thank you for providing the opportunity for a teachable moment… And if you’re a 71Five donor, thank you for providing the funding to create safe space for these opportunities… for God to show up!
 
TROY ELLIS,  71Five City Coordinator – West Medford
541.538.0207 | troy@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Rock Solid Hope

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom or knew someone who did? Imagine a young person at rock bottom, but also behind bars. How would you want someone to step in and help? That’s where my role as the 71Five Justice Coordinator in Grants Pass comes in. I have the privilege of walking alongside youth at these crucial times in their lives. We encounter teens weekly who are at rock bottom. With a message of Hope, we begin to kindle that transformation and begin to prepare a new beginning. One young man who was facing two measure 11 counts just 3 months ago was at rock bottom. He responded to the message of hope and allowed for that transformation to take place. His life is full of new and challenging obstacles but is overcoming them weekly. He told me that the highlight of his week is to come to church and youth group with me on Sunday. 
 
You make stories like this possible by your generous donations and prayers. If you want to go deeper, prayerfully consider volunteering with us. You can bring the change and hope young people need in our community.
 
CHRIS WILLIS,  71Five Justice Coordinator – Grants Pass 
541.941.3488 | chris@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Feels Like Home

While in conversation with a few students, we started chatting about some of our favorite holiday traditions. They told me their favorites, and I told them some of mine. Some of them got distracted, until it was just Oliver and I. I asked “What are some of your favorite holiday traditions at home?” Oliver replied, “Well I don’t really have a home, 71Five is the closest thing I have to that.” I asked him to elaborate, and he shared that, unlike home, 71Five is consistent and stable, a place where he can relax and be comfortable. “This is the first place I’ve ever really felt safe.”
 
Unfortunately, this is the truth for many of our students… lost and broken children, desperately searching for a place to call home. Because of your faithfulness, we can provide consistent love and support to kids like Oliver, giving them a place to feel safe and secure. A place that feels like home.
 
SARA NIELSEN,  71Five Campus Coordinator – Central Point
(541) 816-6761 | sara@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

“To whom it may concern”

“To whom it may concern”, recently, I wrote a letter that started just that way. When it comes to the kids in our community, ‘whom it may concern’ is us. Stan recently graduated welding training at 71Five VoTech. Though both parents are at home and involved, home life still has many challenges due to a variety of factors. To look at Stan, most would see a good kid, and he is, but there’s much more going on inside. Stan’s real story brings concern. In the summer of 2022, Stan took the construction training with 71Five and now he has completed welding. More important, the connection with Stan is growing along with trust that leads to hope.

Thank you for being concerned about young people who look good on the outside but on the inside are struggling with hard challenges. Your concern is changing lives and that changes our community.

 
MATT SWEENEY,  71Five Ministry Director  
541.301.8552 | matt@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Following Wrong Voices

Andy’s past would probably make most people cry. In the last year, Andy’s life took another turn for the worse when he started using meth and couch surfing. He’s 18 now and hearing voices telling him to do things. I wish I was able to tell you Andy has taken a 180, has his life cleaned up, and is following Jesus but he isn’t there yet. He’s currently following the wrong voices in his head. It breaks my heart seeing him this way. All I can do is love on him like Jesus loves on me. Not every kid we have in our care turns to Jesus, but I am thankful for all of you who are giving young people the “opportunity” to turn to Jesus. Andy knows he can count on me. Someday, maybe he’ll be back. For now, it hurts as I watch and pray.  
 
Thank you for continuing to care, even when we don’t always get to see the results we hope for. Thankfully, many others have had their lives changed 180 degrees. If you’d like to know more about how you can personally give young people like Andy the opportunity to know Jesus, give us a call or check out our 71Five.org website.   
 
TIM HARDY,  71Five Campus Ministry Director
(541) 840-0960 | tim@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Job Fair Success

Recently, I took 3 young men to a job fair in Canyonville, Oregon. One I met in Juvenile Detention almost 7 years ago. We have stayed in touch over the years and continue to have a close bond. There is something truly special about the friendships I have formed with the youth in Detention, and I feel so blessed to be a trusted person in their lives. The job fair was a huge success. Each of these young men found a different career path which suited them. The level of excitement in the van ride home was glorious. As we talked, they revealed just how hopeless they had been feeling without direction and purpose in their lives.

Thank you for partnering in this work of building trusting relationships that bring hope and purpose to bleak situations.

 
BEAU JESKA,  71Five Justice Ministry Director – Medford 
541.601.9631 | beau@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Finding an Example

There are 1000’s of young people in our community who are disconnected, discouraged, and directionless. They need someone to offer them time to connect, encourage, & guide them. Emma is just one of these young people. She reached out to 71Five Mentors because she wanted a one-to-one trusting relationship. So many young people like her are looking for this same thing. Emma is 15 years old and wants someone who will bring encouragement and fun into her life. She’s looking for someone she can learn from, find an example in, someone to help her set new goals & learn to keep boundaries. She’s interested in learning new things and exploring opportunities for her personal growth in the mental, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of her life through time spent talking and doing things together after school.
 
Like Emma, we have more young people struggling to find a safe adult to turn to for hope. With as little as 4 flexible hours per month you can make a life changing impact. Mentoring leads to God’s transforming hope one relationship at a time.
 
WENDY COLLINS,  71Five Mentors Coordinator  
541.441.2495 | wendy@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Choosing to live in the ‘fake life’. . . .

Do you know who Milla Sofia is? Milla is a completely artificial Virtual Influencer. “She” is projected as a beautiful woman from Finland living the perfect life, doing amazing things… but none of it’s real. “She” has made the news recently because people are interacting with her as a real person, asking her on dates, asking for advice, and following her on social media. What’s frightening isn’t Milla deceiving people, (Her producers are very clear that the perfect person living the perfect life is fantasy) it’s that young people know it’s fantasy but are choosing to live in the ‘fake life.’ Young people being addicted to fantasy which is much more appealing than reality. It’s clearly a trap and the results are devastating. Mental health issues, depression, and suicide are destroying young people at staggering rates because they are enticed by happiness in the ‘fake life’ but they can’t actually attain it. When the digital dream is better than real life, life becomes an unbearable burden.
 
Thank you for providing trustworthy, competent, and caring adults to each young person. A real person to get them out of the digital fantasy and experiencing actual life. Kids know real life is hard, it hurts, and often there’s good reason to try and escape it. But you can’t escape it for long. This is when a trusted friend who’s lived and learned that a bit of well-focused faith, perseverance and work can bring love, joy, and peace with God. The true best life.
 
BUD AMUNDSEN,  71Five Executive Director  
541.301.0897 | bud@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...

Bella from Georgia Brought the House Down!

Bella is a young girl who came to us from Georgia. She was at the lowest point in her life. She had no friends, she had dropped out of high school, and she felt hopeless. She showed up to 71Five VoTech in a black hoodie with the hood pulled up over her head. She hardly spoke to us, but she did say that she was interested in welding. Bella’s life changed. Within a few short classes Bella would be the first student to arrive. She no longer wore her hoodie over her head, she had a bright smile, and she became an excellent welder. Bella re-enrolled into high school at the nudging of the 71Five VoTech staff. In her own words, Bella said, “Since coming to VoTech, I gained a skill in the trades, friends, and a family.” Bella went on to design and weld window guards for the Salvation Army. She graduated from high school a year early and is now waiting to turn 18 to enroll in the Erickson Aviation Apprenticeship Program! Just this month Bella spoke at Southern Oregon University to a group of women about what 71Five VoTech means to her. She brought the house down. We are so proud of this young lady and the bright future that is in store for her.
 
Thank you for making life changing possibilities for all the young people like Bella.
 
TERESA HUTLEY,  71Five VoTech Case Manager – Medford 
541.282.4689 | theresahutley@71Five.org
 
“Lord God, you are my hope. I have trusted you since I was young.” Psalm 71:5 ICB

Read more...
^