The local chapter of Young Life, a faith-based organization for youth, is hoping that a banquet scheduled for Oct. 25 will give it a much-needed financial shot in the arm.
Scott Smith, the area director in Craig, said the organization that sponsors several events for area youth, is struggling to meet this year's budget and has had financial challenges over the last two years.
"We aren't eligible for United Way because we are a faith-based organization," Smith said.
The organization hopes the banquet, which will feature lasagna, salad, bread, and dessert, will raise from $30,000 to $40,000.
There is a $10 charge to cover the dinner but Young Life hopes to get donations above and beyond that minimal charge, Smith said.
The banquet also will include a slide show presentation regarding Young Life and a talk by Moffat County High School football coach Kip Hafey.
Aubrey Ripkowski, who graduated from Young Life last year, said the program offers a "great opportunity for good clean fun that is not too serious."
"A lot of kids don't want to go to church because they feel like they are judged right away," Ripkowski said. "With Young Life it more oriented around youth and having fun while learning about Jesus."
Ripkowski said even those youth who may not be interested in learning more about Jesus are invited to come "and just hang out."
"The religious-oriented talks are just about five to 10 minutes," she said. "It's not completely religious but it gives kids something to look forward to and its an alternative to just partying."
Ripkowski said she got involved in the organization during her sophomore year. She already was attending
church and saw Young Life as an extension.
She said it is crucial that the community support the organization.
"We need their support so much," Ripkowski said. "Young Life is dependent on the community. It's based solely on donations. We really need it for kids."
TJ Dickerson, regional director, said that if enough funding is not raised, Smith and his wife, Jennifer, would have to find a new Young Life area, which means the Craig operation would become part time and the services that are currently offered would be phased down.
"There has been concern on whether Craig can support a full-time YL staff, and many of you have communicated your doubts that the area can," Dickerson said in an email. "I'm still praying for a miracle and that the community would embrace the work that is being done."
Some of the activities Young Life provides includes:
- Young Life does all the 5th Quarters after home football games with an average attendance of 200 students
- Young Life does Club every Monday night where students play games, socialize, watch skits and hear a brief message about Jesus.
- Young Life has Campaigners -- a place for youth to grow in their faith -- every Thursday morning at the Smith house and the Smiths feed them breakfast.
- Young Life has more than 20 national camps that have been attended by local youth who have said "it was the best week of my life."
- Young Life is relationship based, not facility based. The organization goes where youth are and build friendships, regardless of what those youth believe spiritually.
"When youth have hard times, they need friends and faith," Smith said.