“Josh, I get that you are starting something, and I am pretty sure this ‘Hope for Youth’ thing is about you and your ministry but I am a little confused about all of it! Wasn’t it called TreeHouse? And how did you come up with the idea? And when will you start working with the teens?”
Great questions everyone! And thanks for asking them! I apologize if you have been a little fuzzy on the details in the midst of all the facebook and blog posts, emails, and requests for “likes”, but it is my intent in this post to clarify things for everyone. Please leave me a comment below or send me an email if any questions remain after reading this post, and thanks for your time and support!
What HAS happened…
A little over a year ago, Ann and I began praying about the possibility of starting a ministry to reach out to at-risk youth. A passion for this under-served demographic has been on my heart for a number of years ever since I had an internship with an organization called TreeHouse which operates throughout the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota. I highly recommend watching this video to get a better understanding of what TreeHouse does. Ann and I received a lot of affirmation during an intentional 40 day period of prayer regarding starting this kind of ministry. One of the coolest signs for us came in the mail on the 40th day. It was a newsletter from TreeHouse all about celebrating being in ministry for 30 years and casting a vision for the next 30 years. Unbeknownst to us, their vision for the next 30 years is to bring TreeHouse to hurting youth all across the country! Wow! Soon after this “coincidence” Ann and I started dreaming about the when and where of our own TreeHouse. With the help of some good friends in Virginia (that’s where we were living at the time) we started to flesh out what it would look like to start TreeHouse in Virginia. We made some good progress, but never got the traction we needed to really get things going. After a number of conversations with TreeHouse in MN as well as family and friends, we decided the best route would be to house the ministry in the building of my sister and brother-in-law’s church in Levittown, PA. So we took some steps of faith and decided to move in with my parents here in NJ so that we could save some money as we go about starting up a new life and ministry in Lower Bucks County, PA.
What is happening NOW…
We have been living with my parents for almost a month now, which is wild because it feels like we just got here a few days ago! Ann is on her third week of commuting in to Philadelphia for her new job with the Nurse Family Partnership of Philadelphia. As you can imagine, the hour and fifteen minute commute that she should have is a long one but it is even worse with Philly traffic, often meaning she is commuting for a good 3-4 hours a day. We are doing our best to see this as a season, and I know that Ann has been appreciative of the endless supply of books on CD that my mom, a librarian, offers her to help get through the many hours of driving each week. Overall, Ann is excited about her new job, her new team, and the work she will be doing with low income first time moms and their babies in Philadelphia and we are grateful that God has provided this opportunity for our family.
The week after we moved in with my parents, I was able to make what felt like more progress than I have made over the past year in terms of getting TreeHouse started in PA. In working with our attorney friend and talking with TreeHouse in MN we realized that the best option for providing TreeHouse programming in PA was for me to start a non-profit that would operate out of the building at Restoration Church, using the TreeHouse name and model of ministry. There are a number of different reasons that this would be beneficial, and if you would like to know them, just email me. So that is why everything you have been seeing is called “Hope for Youth“. Hope for Youth is the name I intend to give my non-profit when we file for incorporation in PA and once we file with the IRS we will be able to start accepting donations under that name. In the meantime, if you would like to give towards any of our start up costs, just let me know, we do have a way for you to give that is tax deductible.
So right now, we are in the process of forming our non-profit, which includes inviting board members, filing lots of paperwork, and doing a lot of networking and social media campaigning. It’s a lot of work but I am thrilled to be doing work that will someday soon bring living hope to hurting lives in Lower Bucks.
What happens NEXT…
Over these next few weeks I will continue meeting with potential board members and other key figures in the area to go about forming a plan for next steps. Once we have our board in place, and submit the necessary documents to the various places that are required, we can start officially doing the work of Hope for Youth in PA. This will likely look like me meeting with anyone and everyone in the area that works with the at-risk youth demographic so that I can advocate for the TreeHouse model of mentorship and intentional programming. We will also be doing a lot of work to increase our PR and fundraising efforts. If you are like me, at this point you are probably thinking something like, “Goodness me, this is sure going to take a lot of time and effort to get off the ground. I wonder when Josh will start actually meeting with these youth he keeps talking about?” The realistic answer at this point is hopefully by the fall. I will keep you updated as to what I am doing in the meantime, but I know for me it is helpful to have a goal date in mind as I go about all the “necessary work” it will take to get this ministry started.
What YOU can do…
If you have made it this far in the post it either means you have drudged through all of that information I so thoughtfully provided for you, or you are an action-oriented human being and skipped to the part where you can be involved. Either way, kudos to you and thanks for your support!
Here are some ways you can stay involved with what we are doing: