Kimberly Suta, with Josh Bradshaw
Photo courtesy of:
Boerne Young Life
Young life is a non-denominational, faith-based nonprofit organization that has been making a huge impact across the world since 1941. It has existed in Boerne since 1995 and serves the Boerne ISD high schools and middle schools, as well as Geneva. They also do great work with the teen moms in this community.
Josh Bradshaw is Regional Initiatives Coordinator for the South Texas Region and has been with Young Life for nine years. “I actually failed out of high school in London, England. A lot of that was because of depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse. I think if I’d had a Young Life leader encouraging me, I genuinely think my life could have looked a lot different,” shared Josh.
While the core mission of Young Life is to introduce adolescents to Jesus and help them grow in their faith, there are other significant benefits for students to connect with a Young Life leader. Josh pointed out some interesting statistics. In the U.S., one in four students drops out of school, and those who drop out are more likely to be unemployed. However, students who meet regularly with a mentor are 52 percent less likely to skip school, 46 percent are less likely to start using illegal drugs, 37 percent less likely to drop a class and 76 percent of these kids will aspire to enroll in and graduate from college.
Young Life Makes a Difference
As leaders show up to high school sports practices and games, serve at school events like dances and parades, and help on campus, they earn the right to be heard with students and are often asked to speak into the lives of students. They host a Monday night event called Club — a party with a purpose where students also hear the Gospel, and weekly Bible studies for students, which they call Campaigners. Last year, Boerne High School played in the 4A Football State Championship game. It was a really fun experience for the Boerne High Young Life leaders, as 95 percent of that team were involved with Campaigners.
“The Athletic Director of Boerne ISD thanked us and said, ‘Young Life’s influence in these students’ lives has helped play a part here,’” remembered Josh. “What we do expands into other aspects of these students’ lives, not just their faith. Deep relationships with caring adults help them become more well-rounded individuals.”
Josh recalled one student whose dad passed away when he was young. When he reached high school, he connected with a Young Life leader and that relationship has been very formative. “He connected with one of our leaders and has been going on weekend and week-long camp trips with us since his freshman year. Kids can also give a month of their summer to serve at a Young Life camp property. This student’s life has completely changed. Now, as he’s thinking about where he wants to go to college, he is prioritizing somewhere that has a good Young Life community,” said Josh.
COVID was especially challenging for kids. According to Josh, Gen Z students are considered the loneliest generation, with 60 percent describing themselves as very isolated. “Having a Young Life leader prevents that — especially coming out of COVID. They bring about community in ways students might not otherwise get to experience stuff,” said Josh. “I think Boerne, in a lot of ways, is doing pretty well as a community. There’s so many here that want the best for the students, not just their own kids. It really does take a village.”
Josh’s work in the South Texas Region goes as far north as Kerrville, as east as Victoria and all the way down to the Valley, but Young Life’s efforts extend even further in Texas. Their La Frontera border initiative includes towns along the border, like Big Bend and El Paso.
“The Young Life Area Director has the impossible job. They’re tasked with being a missionary in their area, earning the right to be heard with high school student, and earning the trust and respect of local businesses and donors, among other things,” noted Josh.
Towns in the South Texas Region like Boerne are able to raise 100 percent of their budget from their local community every year. A lot of the work Young Life is doing on the border with the La Frontera initiative requires funding outside of their local ministry area. As Young Life continues to grow its network across South Texas, they hope to raise $6 million over the next five years.
If you’re looking to partner with the work South Texas Young Life is doing, you can get involved either by donating to the organization or helping to serve in a volunteer capacity.
Please reach out to Josh for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit https://southtexasregion.younglife.org for more information. You can donate to their work at https://giving.younglife.org/southtexasdevelopment.
Boerne Young Life Stats
In Boerne we know 800 kids by name.
150+ at club each week
150+ involved in campaigners each week
200+ at summer camp
100+ at weekend camps
50+ volunteer leaders in Boerne