Young Life Dawson County, a Christian organization focused on sharing "the truth of God's love" with local adolescents, celebrated 10 years of service on Sept. 23.
Hosting a banquet at First Baptist Church of Dawsonville, nearly 100 people were served dinner while hearing about the organization's decade of local growth and expansion.
"When we started [in 2003] we were part of Pickens County Young Life. We became Dawson County Young Life in 2006. From there we have continued to grow," said area director Shawn Dutcher.
"We now have Wyld Life, our middle school ministry, Young Life at Dawson County High School and have started College Life, leadership training at North Georgia College & State University."
Dutcher reflected on the organization's first year at the high school, explaining how the initial meeting had only three attendees. He said the club now averages 30 participants every week.
"We have had kids meet Christ and kids grow in their faith. We've taken kids to camp, who said later it was the best week of their life," Dutcher said.
Kelsey Stanfill, 19, volunteered as a server at the banquet. She said she was involved in Young Life for three years prior to graduating in the spring.
"I have been a Christian since I was 7 years old, but Young Life has definitely helped strengthen my relationship with Christ," she said.
"They've taught me a lot about how to go all out and love people no matter what their background is or where they are at in their relationship with God."
Stanfill, now a freshman at North Georgia College & State University, is attending the school's new chapter of Young Life College.
Sophomore Matthew Hamil, 15, is a current member of Young Life Dawson County.
He said he "got saved" this past summer at Windy Gap, a 2,200-acre camp in North Carolina owned and operated by the national Young Life organization.
"Young Life is a way to get closer to God, which is good. And it's in your environment and not at a church, so you don't feel out of place. It's a start to becoming a believer," he said at the banquett.
Young Life meets on Monday nights and most Tuesdays, Hamil said.
"On Mondays we'll sing some songs, play a few games, have a little skit and then one of our leaders will sit down and talk about their walk with God, their past experiences," he said.
Dutcher also reported at the event that Wyld Life has significantly grown at both middle schools.
"Wyld Life has tripled its size since last year and a big part of that is because Troy and Crystal Adams have taken a leadership role. They have gotten other parents involved and that has been key to growth," he said.
Dutcher emphasized the importance of parent volunteers at all age-levels because many of the organization's meetings are in student's homes.
"As I've reminisced over these last 10 years, I've really noticed that our strongest years have been those when our parents have been actively involved," he said.
"We have leaders that are going to show up and build relationships and we're going to share truth and the Gospel with these kids, but we need the community behind us."
For more information on Young Life, or how to get involved locally, call (706) 265-6510.