Few people are lucky enough to find their passion and purpose in life; Andy Morman is one of those folks.
Area Director of Intermountain Young Life, (that serves Evergreen, Conifer and Clear Creek) Andy and his wife, Genna were both Young Life leaders in High School. “It was a huge part of our life. We knew that we wanted to do this when we grew up. Young Life adults are those who care about kids.” Andy set out and earned degrees in Business and Youth Ministry from Simpson University in Oregon.
Andy points out that, “You don’t have to be a Christian to be a part of us. Some have never heard of Jesus, some have no understanding of church and then some want to be leaders in Young Life.”
Andy explained that Young Life has a regular schedule of gatherings that teens can depend on. “We create a safe place to be that is designed for kids who never would go into a church.” First time visitors don’t even have to walk through a door. “We have music and the party starts in the parking lot. There are free refreshments, it’s a social hangout. The kids see that it’s less about themselves than it is for themselves.” A Young Life adult will specifically connect with kids. “We’ll invite in ‘wall kids’ and show them that they’re accepted and loved for who they are.”
But Young Life doesn’t sit and wait for kids to come to them; they diligently strive to do contact work. “We take it seriously to go onto their turf. Whatever we can do to help, we’ll do.” This includes volunteering at the High School, helping with events and being a part of kids’ day to day lives. “We’re able to do a lot in the schools to bridge gaps.”
After the tragedy at Columbine and after the loss of a fellow student years later, Young Life “was able to work with kids. We had a plan to receive kids and give them a place to process what had happened.” Young Life is there for not only difficult times, but routine times as well. “We created a Study Jam. Before finals week The Place and Café were open for students to come and study. We had National Honor Society students come to help tutor.”
Turning especially serious, Andy said, “We have one self-imposed rule: We don’t talk about Young Life at the schools. If someone asks us, we’ll invite them to join us, but we’re in the schools only to volunteer and help where we can.”
Asked how many teens Young Life has reached, Andy estimates that “In Evergreen we know about 300 kids by name in a semester. About 80 show up in Middle School. There are usually about 12 kids in a group, but every leader really knows two to three kids.”
Recently Young Life received the means to hire a full-time employee for the Clear Creek Young Life. “It’s a community in which we really want to invest.” When the Clear Creek Recreation Center shut down due to construction, “they asked if we would help. We’re serving communities where we’re needed.”
Young Life takes advantage of the free time summer offers youths, at several camps. “The summer staff is made of people like me; we run the camps.” Every summer Young Life offers three camping sessions. “High school kids pay to get there and to volunteer, and we give scholarships of $6,000 - $7,000 to about 50 kids to attend the camps.” Andy knows that the camps are more than just a week of outdoor fun. “We’ll get Face Book posts from kids that say, ‘I wish I were back at camp,’ and from parents that say, ‘My child is happy again!’ It doesn’t get better than that!”
On October 16, Young Life will host a fundraising event at the Lake House. “We’ll have dinner, a speaker and music,” said Andy. “It’ll be a fun night that no one will want to leave.” But, “we don’t want to have to always rely on events; we want to achieve a sustainable model that won’t distract from the kids in this community.”
Andy and Genna have three children, Grace (8), Ransom (3) and Eden (2). In the seven years that they have lived in Evergreen, they have embraced the Colorado lifestyle. “Grace has learned to ski, we like to bike and hike. We do a lot, but we also don’t do a lot,” he smiled.
In summing up his passion and purpose Andy put it this way: “I try to do what I’m supposed to do. Kids deserve to live to their fullest. It’s such a gift to live in this community and to have the honored position to know them.”