Western Great Lakes Young Life

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Category: Central GR YL

Central Grand Rapids Young Life Announces New Area Director

Meet Jenna Perkins. Jenna is the new Area Director for Central Grand Rapids Young Life, an area that has active clubs in the East Grand Rapids Schools and Grand Rapids Christian Schools, as well as a YoungLives ministry for teen moms in the Godwin Heights, Wyoming and Kelloggsville schools.

Jenna comes to this position with over ten years of experience on Young Life staff, in addition to a lot of passion, vision, and creativity.

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Jenna (third from left) with a group of Young Life leaders

Matt DeHoog, the Associate Regional Director for Greater Grand Rapids shared this: “Jenna is a proven leader who has a unique drive to connect with people. She is caring, engaging, and a team builder. She will do well sharing the story of what God is doing through Young Life with people in these communities. She also has the capacity to build strong leadership teams to go out into the world of middle school and high school students. I think she’s a great fit for what this area needs.”

Jenna’s passion for connecting with others goes back to her time as a high schooler in Champaign, Illinois. She remembers Young Life leaders investing in her by taking her out for lunch, hanging out at her house, and opening God’s Word with her in Campaigners. It was so obvious how her leaders exuded the love of Christ in all they did. These relationships made a lifelong impact on Jenna.

This is what Young Life is all about. Caring adults stepping into the world of adolescence and doing pretty basic (though often intimidating) things like eating lunch, hanging out and showing up. And they do this never really knowing what the outcome might be. Chances are, Jenna’s Young Life leaders never imagined she’d go on to join Young Life staff one day.

Following High School, Jenna moved to Indianapolis to attend Butler University to study Elementary Education. She remained involved with Young Life throughout college. After graduation, instead of pursuing a career in teaching, Jenna decided to join Young Life staff, which, according to her, was the best decision she ever made.

Jenna’s first role was running WyldLife (Young Life’s ministry for middle schoolers) for Carmel Young Life, and later went on to serve as the Area Director there.

Two years ago, when Jenna and her husband Kyle moved to Michigan for his job, Jenna joined the Eastern Ottawa Young Life team where she was involved in training and developing leaders and also led Young Life at Grand Valley State University.

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When asked what she loves about Young Life, Jenna reflected on the relational approach to ministry: “I have so many memories of important, life-changing conversations with kids which took place over meals, at camp or at Campaigners. I love that Young Life creates deep and important community among kids, leaders, and committee. It’s this community and the lifelong relationships that help kids meet Christ.”

“I am honored and eager to join the Central Grand Rapids Young Life team,” shared Jenna. “I hope to make Young Life and WyldLife a place that all kids feel welcome, secure and loved no matter what state they are in. I want to be reaching kids that won’t be reached any other way.”

When Jenna dreams about the future of Young Life in the Central Grand Rapids area, she sees a ministry that reaches all kids, but especially disinterested kids. She dreams of Young Life being part of high school homecoming parades. She sees kids proudly wearing Young Life t-shirts around town. She envisions Young Life club outdoors at Collins Park and people opening their homes for regular Young Life lunches.

Will you help these dreams become a reality by praying for Jenna in her new role as Area Director and for the entire Central Grand Rapids Young Life team of staff, leaders, and volunteers? And if you live in the Central Grand Rapids area, please contact them to get involved.

Please join us in welcoming Jenna Perkins to Central Grand Rapids Young Life!


PerkinsFamily2017A little more about Jenna and Kyle Perkins—
Jenna met Kyle when he was a volunteer YL leader in Indianapolis. Their first date was a blind date set up by some mutual friends. The rest is history. Kyle is a guidance counselor at Forest Hills Central High School. They have two adorable little boys, Luke (5) & Bennett (2), who keep them busy, laughing & filled with joy. Jenna takes delight in being outdoors and near water, especially if it’s on a boat or water skiing. She also enjoys reading and being creative with home projects, decorating, crafting. Kyle and Jenna enjoy gathering people around the table in their home for dinner, whether it’s a good home-cooked meal or pizza. And lastly, Jenna’s claim to fame is that she grew up next door to Jimmy John—Yes, THE Jimmy John subs. :)

Welcome Jack Droppers to Central Grand Rapids

We are pleased to highlight another Young Life staff member in the Western Great Lakes Region. Jack Droppers may be new to the position of Staff Associate II in Central Grand Rapids Young Life, but he isn’t new to Young Life in the region. He comes to Grand Rapids after pioneering Young Life in Muskegon for three years as Church Partner at Fellowship Church. Let’s take a moment to get to know Jack and welcome him into this new role.

Jack Droppers grew up in Orlando, FL and moved to Michigan to attend Hope College. He is married to Elizabeth, who is a Marriage and Family Therapist. They have two dogs: Bruce and June. They enjoy going to Lake Michigan and throwing sticks into the water for Bruce to fetch.

After graduating from Hope, Jack served as a Young Life Church Partner in Muskegon up until this Fall when he assumed a new role as Staff Associate for the Central Grand Rapids Area. He’ll work closely with Area Director Eric Boer to oversee six clubs and the leaders that lead those clubs.

“Jack has already hit the ground running hard,” commented Eric Boer. “Not only is he serving on our team at EGR High School, but he’s leading our team at GRC Middle School. We are very excited to have him, and word on the street is that he gets picked first when playing basketball with middle school students during lunch.”

Long before ending up on staff, Jack’s first taste of Young Life wasn’t exactly a hit. “I went to club once in high school and I hated it, partially because of my own pride and partially because of being embarrassed during club.” Years later, during his sophomore year at Hope, he took a youth ministry course with Jay Lindell. “Jay explained the history of Young Life and the goal of meeting kids on their turf and terms. The next year I was invited by my housemate Ryan to play guitar for club. Between that experience and Jay’s teaching, I was hooked.”

It’s a good thing Jack gave Young Life another chance. He discovered that Young Life is so much more than a program. It’s about people and relationships. “I love that Young Life leaders are not simply promoting an event or program but offering themselves just as Jesus’ offered himself.”

Jack’s favorite Young Life story is from the early days of ministry in Muskegon. When he first showed up at Oakridge Middle School to do contact work, he was determined to meet some guys. Instead, he recognized an 8th grader that went to his church and sat at her table of friends. “I asked them what they thought of that table of guys next to them. Those guys are idiots, they all replied. I walked over to that table and said, Those girls think you guys are idiots. Tell me why you’re not idiots. One of those guys was a kid I’ll call G, who ended up coming to WyldLife camp, Young Life Fall Weekend and Young Life camp with me. Although G has had a hard few years with his dad not in the picture and lives in his brother’s shadow, Young Life gave him a place where he was cared for, people who knew his first name, and ultimately an invitation to follow Jesus.”

When asked about his hopes for the area, Jack replied, “My hope is that our area would grow in our capacity to invite students into lifelong relationship with God. I believe we do that by growing our leadership teams, expanding our leadership teams in terms of racial/economic/gender diversity, and by creating partnerships with local colleges and churches.”

Please join us in welcoming Jack Droppers to this position and pray for him and for Young Life in the Central Grand Rapids Area to grow and thrive.

You can follow Jack on twitter here and Central Grand Rapids on facebook here. And if you have 22 minutes to spare, you can learn a lot more about Jack by watching this video.