Teenagers want the same thing that adults want - to be accepted for who they are, said Brian Points, director of the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton Young Life organization.
“Every single one is looking for acceptance,” Points said. “It’s in the things they do, the way they act.”
While Young Life has been active in the area since 2002, the non-profit youth organization is finally getting a building of its own. Located at 1804 Washington Avenue - not far from the high school and soon-to-be new middle school - the Young Life building offers a central location for kids to meet, mix or just hang out. There aren’t many free places for teens to hang out in the area, besides friends’ houses or the library, he pointed out.
Now young people will have another option.
Young Life is a Christian organization that focuses on young people in grades 9-12 in the Cloquet, Esko and Carlton areas, although teens from other towns sometime attend and are not turned away.
In the first year, there were eight teens involved in Young Life. They met at organizer Laurie Ketola’s house. Ketola had been involved in Young Life growing up and saw an unfulfilled need in the Cloquet area, and decided to begin a chapter here.
“The organization is a separate entity and not affiliated with any single church or denomination,” Ketola stressed.
After watching the program grow to 25 youth the second year, Ketola stayed active as a leader in the program until the numbers swelled to about 200 youth. She is no longer a leader, but serves on the board of directors for the Cloquet Young Life chapter.
“When Young Life is working well, there are positive changes in the community,” Ketola said.
She has heard many times over the years how being involved in Young Life has made a positive difference in young people’s lives and changed the path their lives had been on. Several of them have moved out of the area and gone on to be leaders in the program in their new towns.
The program was temporarily suspended for two years until Points was hired to be the area director in July 2014.
Points moved to Cloquet from the Twin Cities area with his wife, Liz, and their daughter, Paisley.
The young family just welcomed another bundle of joy last week, when Neva was born Friday at 8 pounds, 3 ounces.
Points worked with youth both at camps and in church for several years before becoming involved in Young Life at a college in the Twin Cities. The now 30-year-old Points received training to help him work with teenagers, and he continues to update the training every year.
Points is excited about the building being located near Cloquet High School, because it will be easy for the teens to walk over after school, or stop by during open lunch to eat and hang out.
After the new middle school is built, they might start accepting younger grades, according to Points.
Everybody is welcome to participate in Young Life, there are no fees or registration necessary.
There will be games, including air hockey and bumper pool, as well as tables set up against a wall for the young people to play games or do homework and talk. In the future, they are hoping to put a kitchen area in the back room, so food can be served.
Points encourages everybody to stop by and meet him and check out the new Young Life center during the open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22.
Ketola said the Cloquet Young Life chapter does not receive any financial assistance from the parent organization, instead relying on local donations to cover expenses. Besides employing Points full-time, the organization also employs his wife as a very part-time administrator. Points stays busy; besides working with the youth, he trains and works with the leaders, leadership development, fundraising, direct ministry, seminary and some administrative duties.
Donations are accepted online at giving.younglife.org, search area # MN79 or they can be mailed to Young Life, P.O. Box 92, Cloquet, MN 55720.
Anybody interested on information about volunteer opportunities can call Brian Points at 218-499-9135 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.