Central Alberta Youth Unlimited staff members are happy to be awarded for their work with young people in the community and beyond.
At the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce Awards earlier this month, Central Alberta Youth Unlimited was named Not for Profit of the Year.
Executive Director Jake Schellenberg said that Youth Unlimited has always made strong efforts to benefit the community and it is nice to receive some recognition for that effort.
“It’s super encouraging to be recognized by the community that way.”
Schellenberg said Youth Unlimited has succeeded at adapting to culture while still personifying the principles of the organization.
He said that Youth Unlimited is a Christian organization, but needs to connect with people in a way that all people understand in order to accomplish its goals.
To accomplish this, Central Alberta Youth Unlimited works to share the principles of Christianity rather than the religion itself, Schellenberg said. He added that the strategy so far seems to be successful.
“We want to see (Christ’s) principles come alive,” said Schellenberg. “We want to see people serving and giving and loving and those kinds of things. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of reaching out to everybody.”
While religion can sometimes ostracize people, Schellenberg said many of the principles of Christianity are not unique to the Christian faith.
So, Youth Unlimited is able to reach out to everyone regardless of religion, socioeconomic background, race or other factors.
As to what earned Central Alberta Youth Unlimited the Not for Profit of the Year Award, Schellenberg said he thinks it would be the organization’s strong desire and ability to respond to the needs of the community.
He gave the example of the YU-Turn Centre.
“It was so obvious to us that Lacombe in particular needed a home for kids to come and hang out and play,” said Schellenberg. “That project ended up being an awesome thing for us as an organization and I think the community as well.”
Schellenberg added that the YU-Turn Centre also gave Youth Unlimited a permanent presence in the community.
This of course has allowed them to even better respond to the community’s needs and made the organization more accessible to all.
Winning Not for Profit of the Year legitimizes the organization in a way.
He said that he hopes this recognition helps the group to become even more established in the community and hopefully can give Youth Unlimited greater accesses to more resources.
Schellenberg’s mantra when it comes to Youth Unlimited is, “Resources equal impact.” He said that, as a non-profit organization, Youth Unlimited faces the same problems all other non-profits do, and sometimes has to put projects on hold because of it.
One example of this is the YU-Turn Housing project.
Schellenberg said while plenty of prep work has been done for the YU-Turn project, Central Alberta Youth Unlimited has not been able to get shovels in the ground in relation to the housing project because they have not yet found the sponsors or the monetary resources to begin that part of the project.
In order to be fiscally responsible, Youth Unlimited has put the YU-Turn Housing project on hold for now in order to maintain its existing programs.
Those other programs, by the way, are continuing to run quite smoothly. In fact, Schellenberg recently returned from a pre-visit trip to Honduras in preparation for Central Alberta Youth Unlimited’s Youth Unlimited Adventure mission trip in July.
Schellenberg said the students on the trip will have the opportunity to work with a Youth Unlimited group from Honduras at a Bible camp.
Students will have a chance to do some peer-to-peer-mentoring while at the camp.
They will also do some traveling (all within the northeast corner of Honduras) and make presentations at different schools.
There will also be time for some fun amusements on the trip as well, added Schellenberg. He said the group plans to spend a little time at a resort, do some snorkeling and other fun activities.
These trips are important to the work Youth Unlimited does because they help, “Convince students they are not the centre of the universe.”
He explained young people often forget how privileged we are in our society and these trips serve as good reminders and opportunities to serve.
Winning this award this year also shows some recognition to the recent changes that have taken place with Youth Unlimited in the region.
In the past year, the local organization has expanded and now has a presence in Ponoka, Rimbey and Red Deer as well as Lacombe. To recognize this change, the group changed its name from Wolf Creek Youth Unlimited to Central Alberta Youth Unlimited.
Schellenberg said he hopes the group can keep expanding. He said that for him, when it comes to progress, maintaining what Youth Unlimited has already achieved isn’t enough.
“Sitting still is going backwards.”
That being said, Schellenberg still recognizes it is important for the organization to stay stable and cover its fundamentals. He said in the current short-term future goals for Central Alberta Youth Unlimited include maintaining a strong presence on campuses, slowing expanding the organization and getting the YU-Turn Housing project off the ground.