To care for, mentor and build relationships with youth that are faith-based, providing opportunities that are safe, inviting and inclusive.
That every young person will have the opportunity to discover faith that is life-changing.
To care for, mentor, and build relationships with youth that are faith-based, providing opportunities that are safe, inviting, and inclusive.
- Going where kids are
- Winning the right to be heard
- Building personal relationships with teens
- Providing experiences that are fun, exciting and life-changing
- Sharing our lives and the good news of the gospel with adolescents
- Loving kids regardless of their response
- Helping young people develop life skills, positive assets, and attitude change to reach their full potential
- Working with a team of like-minded adults (volunteers, board members, donors, and staff)
Our Approach – Philosophy of Ministry
- Time-tested approach: Itasca YFC began with a few simple ideas about how to reach adolescents with the truth of God’s love. Almost four decades later those simple ideas have become time-tested methods for engaging high school students in friendship and hope.
- Caring for kids – Contacting: Because all kids need acceptance and support. YFC staff knows that a teen’s involvement in the program is directly related to how much time is spent with them. Staff seeks to “win the right to be heard”. Going out into a teen’s world is necessary.
- A party with a purpose – Campus Life Club Meeting: What is it that makes Campus Life club the best night of the week for hundreds of kids every week. We like to believe it’s a party with a purpose. It’s controlled chaos that’s almost impossible to describe, but teens know it when they see it. And before the party ends, we share a simple truth that may impact their lives.
- The best week of their lives – Campus Life Trip: Kids consistently tell us that the trip they went on was the best week of their life. That’s a rousing (and unsolicited) endorsement. But how else would you describe a week where deep relationships are forged in the midst of mind-boggling fun and where you experience and listen to the stories of peers and staff.
- Adults who like kids – Community Board Member: YFC is making a difference in the lives of kids in the area because we are supported by adults who care about teens in our community. For every talented YFC staff person there is a team of dedicated volunteers who work indirectly with kids. The local board of directors is comprised of parents, Campus Life alumni, and civic leaders. They provide a foundation of financial, administrative and moral support for the local YFC staff.
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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