About Itasca YFC
YFC is not about the programs, it's about the people in the programs.
Itasca Youth for Christ is a 501(c) (3) not for profit, non-denominational youth ministry registered with State and Federal Governments. We are a chartered affiliate with the Youth for Christ USA National Organization, and are governed by a local board of directors.
Itasca Youth for Christ is locally funded by voluntary tax deductible gifts and contributions from individuals, businesses, churches, the United Way of 1000 Lakes, the Blandin Foundation and the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation.
The development of the Itasca YFC program is directly related to local community support. Full financial information is available upon request. The administrative office is located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
For over 50 years, Itasca Youth for Christ has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to teens. The staff meets kids as they are, and believe in who they can be. The staff listens to their stories and learns what is important to them. Concerns about their joys, triumphs, heartaches, and set-backs are the focus of the staff’s involvement. Within YFC, this persistent relational pursuit of teens is called “contacting”, but to the staff and kids alike, it’s friendship.
According to Duane Geisler, Itasca YFC’s Executive Director, kids involved in any of the YFC programs have a blast laughing, sharing new experiences with friends and learning how life is to be lived in relationship to one’s Creator. The good news of the gospel has a lasting impact on their lives.
Duane grew up in Pine City, Minnesota and is a graduate of Pine City High School. In 1969, he graduated from Oak Hills Christian College in Bemidji, MN, with a major in Bible. While attending Oak Hills he met Caralee Ostrom and they were married in November of 1969. Duane has four adult children, three sons and one daughter. He has 12 wonderful grandchildren and 2 great-grandsons.
Duane began his ministry with Youth for Christ in the summer of 1969, in Virginia, Minnesota. He moved to Grand Rapids in 1971, where he began the Itasca Youth for Christ chapter and became its first Executive Director. Duane is a member of Community Presbyterian Church of Grand Rapids and a lay-preacher for the Presbytery of Northern Waters. In December 2000, he graduated from Bethel College with a B.A. in Community Service and Leadership.
By being in direct contact with teens in Campus Life Clubs, the Juvenile Justice Ministry, and the Ground Floor Youth Center, his work for more than 50 years has been a major contribution to Itasca YFC and the community.
Caralee grew up in Hammond, Indiana, and graduated from Hammond Technical/Vocational High School. She then moved to Bemidji, Minnesota, where she graduated from Oak Hills Christian College with a major in Bible. While there, she met Duane Geisler and after graduation they were married in November 1969. She joined her new husband in Virginia, Minnesota, as they became a team in their work with YFC. In 1971 they moved to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, with their infant son and began the Itasca Youth for Christ chapter. They added to their family two more sons and one daughter. Caralee was a stay-at-home mom, doing volunteer YFC office work from home until their children were all in school full time. She was then hired as the part-time Administrative Assistant. Her responsibilities include running the day-to-day office work, helping with YFC events, chaperoning a number of Campus Life activities and trips, and helping to staff the Ground Floor, most recently taking on the position of interim Ground Floor Director. She communicates with the board of directors and also serves on one of the functioning board committees. She thoroughly enjoys spending time with her children, 12 grandchildren and 2 great-grandsons.
Deer River Campus Life Director
Heather began her work with Itasca YFC on May 1st, 1997. She graduated from Bemidji State University with a B.A. in Social Work.
Heather is married to Lance Schjenken. "Lance is an amazing man; it's not easy being married to a spouse who works with teens." Heather has a son, a daughter and a step-son. Heather says, "In looking back over my years of youth ministry, my life has been blessed by the opportunity to spend time with Deer River kids.
Lennetta (Nettie) Yunk
Nettie is a long time resident of the Deer River, Cohasset and Grand Rapids, Minnesota areas. She was married to the late William (Bill) Yunk for 61 years. Together they have 4 adult children, 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Nettie's duties include: helping- with monthly mailings, miscellaneous office work and soliciting some local funding, which she loves to do. Nettie has a “big heart” for teens and will do all that she can to help reach them with God's love and forgiveness. She feels her work in the office and the contacting she does frees up a time to enable the ministry staff more direct contact with the kids in the YFC programs. Nettie has served Itasca YFC since 1986, as a volunteer for two years and then as part-time paid staff.
“YFC is not about the programs, it’s about the people in the programs.”
The majority of all funds donated to Itasca YFC are invested in people who spend their time working in full or part-time positions. They are YFC’s number one asset. Staff must have their B.A. degree and go through internship training in their first year. Additional training is required every two years.
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