This June, One-Eighty Youth Programs put the keys into the ignition of one of their latest ministries:
A completely renovated 32-foot Winnebago equiped with a small café, scooter shop, computers, and video editing lounge encapsulates this ministry. Twice per week, it rambles down Lockeford Street toward Kofu Skate Park.
Thanks in large part to the Advent Conspiracy 2012 gift from generous First Baptist givers, the Lewis family, Horizon Community Church Lodi, and Kevin Harcourt, the “One-Eighty Mobile Unit” and mentors inside serve as a stabilizing, positive force to students who spend time at this park.
In the spring of 2013, the City of Lodi Parks and Recreation Department came to Jake McGregor, executive director of One-Eighty Youth Programs, and asked if One-Eighty could do anything about reaching students at the park.
“They were running out of options,” Jake said. “They were considering completely shutting the park down.”
Since starting the Mobile Unit program, Jake and a team of volunteers have been able to satisfy more than the physical thirst of Kofu skaters with the mobile café. Through simply being available to talk, Jake and other mentors have been able to have deep conversations with several of the regulars.
“It’s really great to have a new platform to reach teenagers,” Jake said. “With the Mobile Unit, we are able to get the Gospel out to the people. This is exactly what Jesus did for us: God incarnate.”
No studies have been done to see if littering, violence, and drug-use are down as a result of the presence of the One-Eighty Mobile Unit, but while the mentors are there, it is evident the light of Christ through them offers a stabilizing presence to the park.
This year’s attendees of the One-Eighty’s biggest annual fundraiser, Evening in the Vineyard, were able to check out the Mobile Unit in person.
Streams of supporters took a tour with new Program Director Matt Krieg, and Intern Robert Partida. “People seemed really excited about this new branch of One-Eighty,” Matt said.
Perhaps the presence of the hulking Mobile Unit inspired generosity within the hearts of Evening in the Vineyard attendees. The event raised the exact amount of money needed to keep all aspects of One-Eighty’s ministries going for another year.
One of these ministries is the continuation of the Why Try: 180 program. Why Try: 180 is an evidence-based life skills program teaching at-risk students the value of trying at home and school. Lessons taught help with gang-prevention, depression, anxiety, fighting, and grade improvement.
This is the biggest year yet for the Why Try: 180 program—lead by Director Alison McGregor. Why Try: 180 has four professional and lay therapists facilitating 40 groups within nine Lodi Unified School District middle and high schools. By the end of the 2013-2014 school year, the facilitators will reach close to 400 students with this life-skills program.
The hope is that these students come to the teen center after going through the program and connect to a teen center mentor. Within the context of that relationship, students can hear the truth of Christ.
Attendance at the teen center has already increased this fall, perhaps due in part to the growth of Why Try: 180.
“Whatever it is,” Program Coordinator and Why Try: 180 Facilitator Matt Krieg said, “we are grateful. We love seeing new faces come back day-after-day to skate, do homework, and talk about real life stuff with us… It’s incredibly encouraging.”
To learn more about all of the One-Eighty Youth Programs ministries—including a new launch to reach elementary-aged students and their families through Care Lodi—please call One-Eighty at (209) 339-2308.
8:30am & 11:00am