Tiger Dawson graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1979. Twenty years later, he’s back, working for the organization that influenced his teen-age years.

“I had a desire to make sure that every kid has an opportunity like I did,” Dawson says.

For more than 30 years, Young Life has been part of our neighborhood. Young Life introduces junior high and high school children to Christianity and helps them grow in faith by providing a positive, fun atmosphere.

Dawson, now regional director, is not the only Lake Highlands graduate to return to Young Life. More than one-third of the 30 leader volunteers are from our neighborhood and were in Young Life during high school. Of the four staff members, three are Lake Highlands’ graduates and former Young Life members.

“They come back because Young Life impacted them when they were in high school,” says Kyle Kaigler, area director for Young Life. “They have decided they want to serve and impact another life.”

Senior Matt Rooker has already made that decision.

“After college I would love to come back and be a leader,” he says. “I’m actually acting as a leader for the junior high now.”

Rooker has been in Young Life since ninth grade. He first attended because his friends were going, and it was fun. But during the past four years, he and Young Life staff members and leaders have developed a mentoring relationship, supporting each other.

“They’re really neat people,” he says. “They have helped me to grow spiritually and keep my walk in the Lord strong. They have been there when I needed them.”

Young Life is organized by staff members, leaders and a committee, all from Lake Highlands. Leaders, who are volunteers from the community, work from 10 to 15 hours a week with teenagers. They lead weekly meetings and Bible studies, join Young Lifers for school lunches, and organize high-adventure activities such as camping in Colorado and Wyoming.

“Young Life teaches kids about faith in everyday life,” says area director Kyle Kaigler. “It’s not about being in a club. Everyone is welcome here.”

Five teams of leaders provide outreach to more than 300 actively participating teenagers. What makes Lake Highlands Young Life distinct from others across the nation is that one of those teams is specifically for minority ministry.

“We’re one of the few clubs in the nation that is integrated,” Dawson says. “Lake Highlands Young Life is a place where I can see a huge difference in the community. We’re reaching a diversified population across the City.”

Leaders and staff members also work to include the community with Young Life activities by organizing volunteers. “Friends of Young Life” is a group of 60 couples from Lake Highlands who volunteer their time to prepare meals, provide transportation and offer their homes as meeting places. Another 10 Lake Highlands couples serve as a community committee overseeing the organization’s decisions and goals.

John and Myra Boynton have served on the committee for eight years. They help oversee the ministry rather than directly working with the teenagers.

“John and I enjoy working with Young Life,” Myra says. “Young Life reaches kids’ souls and meets their inner needs. Lots of teenagers are looking for meaning in their lives. We feel privileged to support the volunteers and staff. It’s a positive for the whole community.”

Since 1963, Young Life has grown from serving only Lake Highlands High School to a youth ministry that now includes Forest Meadow and Lake Highlands junior high schools and the Lake Highlands Freshman Center.

“Young Life is successful because of gifted leaders, parent involvement, and the community,” Kaigler says. “Lake Highlands Young Life is what it is because of community support.”

For information about the program, call Kyle Kaigler, Area Director, Lake Highlands Young Life 214-373-4553.