Youth ministry takes a big step forward

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The leaders and volunteers with My Life Matters, had plenty of reason to celebrate their program this year with the news that a new program at Woodsdale Elementary School would mean the program has reached into every public school in Person County.

But that was just the half of it.

The non-profit also opened a new program across the state line in Cluster Springs. And they purchased the site of the old Virgilina Elementary, which My Life Matters executive director Tim Bowes hopes will help increase the services the agency can provide in the future.

The school was abandoned several years ago by the Halifax County Board of Education and sold to a private owner. He later sold the property, which totals about four acres, to My Life Matters.

Originally part of an organization called Youth for Christ, My Life Matters was born about three years later as Bowes and his colleagues wanted to expand beyond high school ministry and into the middle and elementary schools.

The purchase of an old parachute factory on Danwin Court now dubbed The Warehouse allowed the program to provide off-campus services to youth in the area and that operation continues unabated today. It also gave the organization a chance to provide other kinds of services, like meeting space, to other community organizations.

“We have something going on here most every night,” Bowes said. “As long as they aren’t at cross-purposes with our mission, we’re happy to let them use the space.”

Over the years, the program has steadily set up new after-school programs at schools across the county until this year when they finally established programs in all the schools.

But the purchase of the Virgilina property really has mission leaders excited about what the organization can do.

“Four big words come to mind when I think about that property,” Bowes said. “Camp. Retreat. Conference. Event.”

Bowes said the building space at the school is large enough to sleep as many as 60 people who might want to attend an overnight event.

While still focused on youth, Bowes said the facility is flexible enough to house a wide variety of programs. And that, he hopes, will help him expand his core mission. “People have to trust you before they are really willing to work with you. This is one of the ways we can build trust, by providing space for these events. And by doing what we say we will do,” Bowes said.

When the facility will actually open for use is anybody’s guess, Bowes said. A lot of renovation work has already been done on the main school building and an auxiliary building that sits next door. Church groups and volunteers get to the site as often as they can. On Monday, a group from South Carolina was on site putting up siding on the auxiliary building.

“It’s all a matter of doing what we can with the money we have. We will raise as much as we can, but we’ll have to do the work as we can afford to do it,” Bowes said.

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