Introducing…

Thor KolemainenThor Kolemainen, Director of Advancement

We are pleased to introduce to you Thor Kolemainen, who recently joined our staff as Director of Advancement. Thor will be working closely with Youth Haven’s President, Lars Carlson, in an effort to develop stronger relationships with you, our faithful friends and supporters. We want to create a culture where Youth Haven is an extended family of staff, volunteers, prayer partners, and financial partners, all mutually supportive of each other and with a common purpose of sharing Christ with disadvantaged children. Please feel free to reach out to Thor with any questions you might have about our ministry, or with your prayer requests. He can be reached via e-mail at thor@youthhaven.org, or by phone at 517-569-3328.

Thank You for Making a Difference!

Devonte with team leader

Devonte with his team leader in 2009

An Adoptive Mother’s Heartfelt Words of Thanks

I want to write this letter to say thank you for the opportunities you have given my son Devonte. He has been an LIT (Leader in Training) for the summer and continues. This has changed his attitude toward others. He has learned compassion for the children and adults. He has grown in his faith. He loves to give to others. What a pleasure it is to see him growing into a fine young man.

Before he started this journey he was very self absorbed and really cared very little or had no concern for others. He came to us at age 8 years and had already endured more than an adult should have, let alone a child. He was angry and just terrible to others. The one thing he looked forward to as a child was the weekends he got to spend at Youth Haven. Over the years of camp he grew to love the camp and at 15 years he asked if he could try to be in the LIT program. How grateful I was to have him be given this chance!

Both Devonte and I want to express our thanks for him to have this wonderful opportunity.

Signatures

Elizabeth Williams, Devonte Williams

Names and photos used with permission.

Devonte as LIT

Devonte as an LIT in 2015

Spring 2016 Progress Update

Progress Update

Your gifts provide safe, high quality facilities for children in need!

At the Michigan Campus:
In our “Chicken Coop” gymnasium, the boys’ and girls’ restrooms have been gutted, and remodeling is nearing completion. Cleaning, painting, and repairs are taking place throughout the entire building.

In the “Deerlodge” dining facility, the walls and ceiling have been patched and painted, old kitchen equipment removed, and new stainless steel counters, sinks and a dishwasher installed. Feeding the children is a key component of our ministry, and these upgrades will enable our chef to more efficiently prepare meals in the large quantities that are needed for the kids. Thank you to the Home Depot volunteers (pictured above) who painted our children’s dining room!

At the Arizona Campus:
Volunteers have thoroughly cleaned and painted the dorms, repaired and painted picnic tables for activities and meal times, and painted one of our activity pavilions.

We have stepped out in faith to accomplish these needed projects and are trusting God to provide approximately $25,000 to cover the cost. You could be part of that provision by giving a special gift toward the renovations. In addition to strict state regulations and camp inspections, we believe providing high quality facilities for the children helps show them they are important to us. Thank you for making that possible!

Summer 2016 Preview

Summer Preview

Summer Camp begins June 6 in Arizona, June 13 in Michigan!

Your generosity will enable us to offer close to 1,100 scholarships for disadvantaged children this summer! Because you care, these kids will get to experience the fun of summer camp and discover the hope of Christ at Youth Haven, free of charge!

Here are a few of the exciting summer activities they’ll enjoy during their week with us:

  • Adventure Trail
  • Archery
  • Bikes
  • Chapel
  • Covered Wagons
  • Crafts
  • Gaga Ball
  • Game Room
  • Gym
  • Petting Farm
  • Playground
  • Sports
  • Story Time
  • Swimming
  • Waterslide
  • Zipline (Michigan)

We’re still looking for committed individuals who are passionate about children’s ministry to fill a few key roles on our summer staff team. To learn more, please visit www.youthhaven.org/employment.

Please continue to pray for Youth Haven as we prepare for this busy season. Thank you for your financial love gifts that make this ministry possible!

Lars Carlson Appointed President & CEO

Board of Directors

Board of Directors Appoints Lars Carlson President and CEO

The Board of Directors is excited to announce that Lars Carlson stepped into the role of President and CEO of Youth Haven on January 1, 2016.

“I’m so excited about the new transition we’re having at Youth Haven, with Larry and Lars Carlson,” says Board member Ron Soule. “Larry’s been in a leadership role since the beginning of Youth Haven in 1968, so for the last 47 years he’s been a great servant leader of this organization. We’re excited that Larry is going to be passing the baton of leadership, that Lars is going to become the new President & CEO, and we’re looking forward to all that the Lord can do in this ministry.”

In Larry’s own words: “I feel blessed that the Board of Directors voted unanimously to elect Lars, my son, as President. My wife Cheri and I are proud of Lars and his spiritual heart and his vision for the future of Youth Haven. Lars will be the third generation to be President of Youth Haven.” Larry will continue to be involved at Youth Haven and remains Chairman of the Board.

As the son of Co-Founders Larry and Cheri Carlson and grandson of Founders Morry and Dorothy Carlson, Lars grew up on the Michigan campus and has been involved in the Youth Haven programs his entire life. Feeling God’s calling on their lives, and with a renewed passion for sharing the love of Christ with disadvantaged children, he and his wife Amy joined the staff full-time in 1997. He has served as Executive Director for the past several years.

Lars holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Liberty University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. He is well prepared to lead the ministry and committed to seeking and following God’s guidance.

“I’m very excited to see where God is leading Youth Haven and how He will use me to build on the strong foundation laid before me to ultimately reach more children for Christ,” Lars says. “Youth Haven is needed more today than ever, and I’m humbled and excited to be able to lead this great work – to take as many children to Heaven with us as we can!”

As articulated by Board member Lane Anderson, “What a privilege to find myself at a time and place where now we’re seeing the third generation, Lars Carlson, coming into leadership… I couldn’t be more thrilled as a Board member and as one of the people who get to help guide this ministry towards the future to recommend before you Lars Carlson as our next President. We ask you to pray with us for all the decisions and all of the directions that we wish to go in the future. We want God’s permission, and His direction, and His wisdom.”

Congratulations!

We would like to extend our congratulations to two long-time staff members who have recently retired.

Louise TrippLouise Tripp joined the Youth Haven team in 1996 and was an integral part of our office staff for nearly 20 years, helping to coordinate special events and serving as Assistant to the President, Larry Carlson. She also enjoyed doing special things for the children through the years – preparing snacks, helping to coordinate Christmas dinners, even hosting a princess tea party for the girls. Many of you came to know and love Louise as she greeted you and spent time with you at our events. After many years of faithful service, Louise has decided to retire so she can spend more time with her family, especially her grandchildren.

Nancy TrammellNancy Trammell is also retiring after 25 years of serving the Lord faithfully at Youth Haven. In fact, Nancy’s first experience as part of the Youth Haven staff was more than 30 years ago, when she served as a team leader in the children’s program. For the past 25 years, she has been our Children’s Scheduling Coordinator and has built relationships with parents, agency representatives, and the children themselves during the scheduling and registration process. She has also poured her heart into packing the bags of toys for the children each Christmas. And if you’ve ever called our office, chances are you’ve heard Nancy’s gentle voice on our end of the line.

We will miss Louise and Nancy a great deal, but we wish them both the very best as they retire to spend more time with family. We pray God’s blessings for them in the days ahead!

Winter 2016 Progress Update

Progress Update

Exciting things are happening at Youth Haven!

Youth Haven has been blessed with wonderful facilities that provide a safe and fun environment for disadvantaged children. Because you and many others have stood with us financially, we’ve never taken out a loan to complete a building project!

After many years of year-round camping programs, Michigan winters, and Arizona sun and heat, some of our facilities are showing their age and need to be upgraded and remodeled. Over the next few months, we plan to tackle several projects, including:

  • A complete overhaul of our commercial kitchen at the Michigan campus, including upgrading and replacing appliances. The kitchen is a crucial area of our ministry, and we want to make sure we keep it properly equipped for food safety and efficient preparation of delicious meals!
  • Remodeling of our children’s restrooms at the Michigan campus
  • Evaluating shingles/roofing on some of the buildings at our Arizona campus and replacing them as needed
  • Painting
  • Landscaping

If you’d like to have a part in improving our facilities for the children, a special financial love gift to help cover the costs would be greatly appreciated. In addition, if you have construction or landscaping skills and would like to volunteer your time and talents, please contact Bethany, our Volunteer Coordinator, at (517) 569-3328 (Michigan) or (520) 466-3093 (Arizona).

Thank you for making Youth Haven a safe and fun place for children to experience the love of Christ!

Winter 2016 Volunteer Corner

Volunteers

Volunteer Work Day
at the Michigan Campus
Saturday, May 14, 2016

Join us at the Michigan campus on May 14th for Youth Haven’s Work Day! It’s a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children by helping Youth Haven prepare for the very busy and exciting summer program! There will also be games, prizes, fellowship with Youth Haven staff and other volunteers, and a delicious cook-out lunch prepared by our fabulous children’s chef!

Potential work projects include:

  • housekeeping in the children’s cabins and facilities
  • painting
  • clothing barn organization
  • grounds beautification
  • tree removal and wood work
  • small construction projects
  • various other projects to help get our campus summer-ready!

We invite you to work alongside our staff to prepare the facilities and
grounds to be a fun and safe environment for these very deserving children! Bring your friends and family!

Space is limited, so please pre-register with Youth Haven’s Volunteer Coordinator, Bethany Peterson, by April 22. Please call 517-569-3328 or email her at bethanypeterson@youthhaven.org as soon as possible!

Thanks for all you do! We hope to see you there!

You are Giving Hurting Children Hope!

By Rick Isham

You gave hope to a hurting boy at Youth Haven!

This particular child was having a rough week. At one point, he became very distraught and we were having a hard time getting him to calm down and talk to us. All he kept saying was he wanted to see his mom. Over and over again that’s all he kept repeating. I finally told him we could go to the office and call her. His response told me all I needed to know about his behavior. He shouted back at me, “No we can’t… she’s dead! God took her.”

He looked at me with tear-filled eyes that begged for me to help take the pain away. It took me a moment to process. You see, I was once in his shoes. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.” I told him I had an older sister who died when I was 12. His eyes just peered back in shock as I shared. I gently touched him on the shoulder and again said, “I’m so sorry.” He leaned in for a hug and just cried on my shoulder for a moment.

We walked over to the office, talking as we went. I learned that he has been in foster care since his mom died 2 years ago, and he and his sister are about to be adopted. I could tell he was nervous about that.

After we got to the office, I opened my bag of Twizzlers and just wanted to spoil this boy to show him I was sincere. I also wanted to talk to him about his statement that God took his mom away. I explained that for years I was angry with God. I blamed God for my sister’s death and didn’t want anything to do with Him. I then shared some verses which changed the way I looked at death and pain.

I took out a new Trailbook (New Testament), which we give to each child. I turned to Revelation 21:3-4 and highlighted the verses: “…God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

I handed him the Bible and explained that death came into the world as a result of sin and man’s choices. But God made a way for us – through Jesus – to overcome death. I described heaven and explained the hope I have in Christ that one day I will see my sister again. I prayed with him, and he wrote a letter to his mom. I believe his hurting heart found hope, and healing began.

This is one of many tragic stories which could be told by the children of Youth Haven, each carrying hurt and pain from a world of sin.

You and I, we get the opportunity to truly give hope, an everlasting hope, to the boys and girls who attend Youth Haven. Thank you for the important part you have played. Please continue to pray for the children as well as the staff as we continue to be a light in the darkness to thousands of children!

Youth Haven Children

Volunteer Corner: Christmas 2015

Christmas VolunteerSpecial Christmas opportunity at the Michigan campus:
Help serve Christmas dinner to the children on a Saturday in December! It’s a fun, easy way to show them they are loved and valued. Contact Stephanie at 517-569-3328 to sign up!

Featured Fall Volunteer Group
Approximately 16 volunteers (some pictured below) from Robbins United Methodist Church and Mendon United Methodist Church worked 5 full days helping us complete many projects around the Michigan campus. Those projects included:

  • Installing cubbies to hold personal belongings in the children’s bathrooms
  • Sanding/staining building doors
  • Cleaning the Hayloft Family Ministries Center
  • Cleaning up playgrounds
  • Tree work; cutting up large logs
  • Staining restroom privacy fences
  • Spreading mulch/pulling weeds

We are grateful for this group of volunteers, and all of our wonderful volunteers who help make our ministry possible! If you have an interest in volunteering or would like to get your group involved, please contact Stephanie Ludwig, our Volunteer Coordinator, at 517-569-3328 or 520-466-3093!

Volunteers