The Christian Youth Center of Morris has not had it easy this year with the departure of director Nick Marcoux, who had led the group from its infancy, and his wife Amy. But it has survived and, according to its new director, Pete Vienne, the youth center is even thriving.
“I see God using this ministry in so many ways,” Vienne told the packed White Oak Elementary gymnasium at Saturday’s CYCM 11th annual banquet. “This organization has gone through so many difficult decisions in many directions, and no decision has been light. ... I miss my friends and their leadership so much, but their legacy is being carried on here.”
Vienne said the relationships developed by the Marcouxs are continuing to grow and new ones are forming every day. One new relationship has been forged among several area ministers and the CYCM. Pastors such as Rick Barnard, who began CYCM, and Roy Backus have been affiliated with the CYC for a while, but a new program begun recently is uniting the program’s kids to even more ministers.
On Tuesday evenings, area ministers take turns coming to the center to talk to the teens.
“They share God’s vision to the body of Christ,” Vienne said. “This is one more stepping stone to get our unchurched teens to go to church.”
The CYC is not just about area teens and a handful of adults, Vienne said. It’s about the whole community, which benefits from its youth receiving positive messages and having safe friendships and adult mentors.
The motto of the CYC is, “Changing Lives, Changing Families, Changing Communities through Christ,” and Morris businessman Jim Baum spoke about the community aspect of the youth center.
Baum, who was responsible for the vision and financial backing of turning the dilapidated complex that is now the Grundy County Historical Society, Morris Theatre Guild, Grundy County Hospice, We Care and CYCM into the center for non-profits it is today, said he still remembers the youth center's beginning.
He was driving down Jefferson Street in downtown, he said, and noticed that Franklin Street was barricaded off and a couple dozen teenagers were playing games on the street.
“I couldn’t imagine what that was about,” he said.
That was the beginning of the CYCM.
“It was a way the young people of this community could come together in a non-denominational way ... to receive Biblical instruction, good times, a fun environment and good food for no money.
"I could see it could be a light on the hill for this community’s youth.”
Baum said that light on the hill is only flickering now, with much more needed at the center.
“I think that being stewards and being servants is what’s expected of us now,” he said.
Projects for the building itself include finishing the gymnasium ($8,000), raising the floor in the last classroom and office ($20,000), heating and air conditioning ($12,000), finishing the gym bathrooms ($15,000), finish the classroom and office area ($25,000) and more.
Adults are also needed for after-school tutoring programs, to bring snacks to the programs, to help with fundraising, to volunteer time and services for construction, to provide prayer and for monthly cleaning of the facilities.
Testimony at the banquet was also given by Morris High School junior Andrew Chlebek; a skit written by CYC teen Winter Burnett was performed; and Pastor Roy Backus spoke about the importance of adults “re-parenting” the community’s teenagers who may not have suitable parent figures in their lives.
For more information about the Christian Youth Center Morris, visit www.cycmorris.com or call (815) 416-9424.