Want to help?
* Anyone interested in serving as an adult leader in the Forsyth County Young Life ministry should contact Chris Ashburn at (770) 687-8122.
* More information about all the Young Life offerings in Forsyth can be found at www.fcyl.younglife.org.
SOUTH FORSYTH — A Forsyth County ministry for young people continues to take root.
Chris Ashburn, area director of the county’s Young Life program, an interdenominational nonprofit that shares the message of Jesus Christ with middle and high school students, said the growth has been tremendous.
The local ministry was reformed in fall 2011 after having been disbanded for several years prior to that.
“I think at the end of our first year, we were averaging probably around 45 to 50 kids at club [meetings], and [this past] fall, we were averaging around 135 at the club,” Ashburn said.
The weekly club meetings are held on Monday nights during the school year at Fagan’s Biscuit Barn on Peachtree Parkway. The gatherings are open to any middle or high school student in the county.
The organization also seeks to eventually have school clubs at all middle and high schools in the county.
Right now, Ashburn said, Lambert High has the most active group of students, but a school club has also been established at South Forsyth High.
“We’ve become an official club of South … so in the fall we’re going to put a lot of effort toward making South as thriving as Lambert is right now,” Ashburn said.
He added that there currently aren’t enough adult leaders to be able to expand to any other schools.
“We just need more volunteer leaders in order to be able to do that,” he said. “We have students who come [to the club] from West and North and a few from Central every once in a while, but we don’t have any leaders that are focused on those schools.
“As soon as we can get more leaders, we’ll be able to move into more schools.”
While the ministry always can use more adult leaders, Ashburn said it has seen great financial support from the community.
“We just finished our golf tournament [on April 28] to raise money for Young Life and we had maybe 12 teams play last year, but this year we had 29 teams,” he said.
“In the beginning of December, we did this campaign to raise $90,000 in 90 days, and I really didn’t think we had any chance of making it, but we actually ended up going over our goal.”
While most of the funds from such events go to organizational staffing and operating budgets for various school-year programs, a portion goes toward helping students attend different summer camp opportunities.
Ashburn said two camps are planned for this year, one in June to Colorado and the second in July to North Carolina.
“Our big thing is, if you want to go to camp, we’ll figure out a way for you to go,” he said. “Money shouldn’t be an issue.”
All in all, Ashburn said this school year has been a great one for the program.
“This year has been one of my favorite years on Young Life staff because it seems like we’ve really been blessed with the growth and a lot of support,” he said.
“It’s been really great to see the community rally around and say they want this to stay here; they want Young Life to not just survive by to thrive here in Forsyth.”