by REAGAN MOTSINGER
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Oct. 2018) - When Bethany Gonzalez-Pelayo’s (12) friends urged her to join Young Life, she was somewhat apprehensive. She didn’t know what the club’s mission was, so she wasn’t sure it was the right fit for her. “They would always be like ‘Come hang out with us!’ and then I’d be like ‘Oh, but I don’t know what it’s about,’” Gonzalez said. “You could just come. Literally anyone’s welcome. So I finally agreed to go.”
Students involved in the club shared similar stories of discovering it, though many came from different backgrounds. For Julie Haseman (12), the connection to the club came from her sister.
“My sister, who is three years older than me went, and I know that she always talked about how great of an environment it was,” Haseman said. “I just didn’t really know anyone, but … I thought I’d go with [my friend] and try it out, [so] I did, and I loved it.”
Though a variety of students joined Young Life through their connections with other people, the club had a significant impact on their lives. Some, like Javier Patricio Galeana (12), became very involved in the different branches of Young Life. Patricio participated in both Young Life and Vida Joven activities, additionally leading Wyld Life, Young Life’s middle school sector.
“There’s always Young Life associated with my life,” Patricio said. “It feels great helping people and being a part of something.”
Emma Fox (9) hoped to one day lead middle school students like Patricio, having participated in Westfield Wyld Life herself. She also loved doing activities with her own Young Life leaders and building close relationships with them.
“The leaders, they’ll be your best friend,” Fox said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a bad person or a good person; they’ll still love you just the same.”
Gonzalez also appreciated the leaders, who cared deeply for the students, and she found new opportunities to get involved at school through her connections at the club.
“Young Life has allowed me to have more connections and be more involved in the school because through being in Young Life, Mrs. HT found out about me and my sister, so I’ve been able to participate more in the school, such as being involved in Friday morning music and being able to put my art around the school to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month,” Gonzalez said.
Young Life also affected students’ perspectives as well as their opportunities. For Addi Cash (10), the club gave her a chance to be herself without judgment. She also gained insights on life from her experiences at Young Life.
“It has made me have a more positive outlook on life and realize that everything happens for a reason,” Cash said.
Students like Cash who have participated in Young Life have felt that it is a safe place where they are free from pressure to be people they weren’t.
“It’s very positive,” Haseman said. “It really just builds you up and it makes you feel like you matter. … It’s definitely helped me grow in my faith … and my confidence.”