Celebrating the value of The Station

Altona Youth for Christ (The Station) held their annual dessert fundraiser last week. Along with more desserts than anyone could possibly eat, the event included guest speakers and live music. Above, co-directors Sheridan Sawatzky and Marty Falk share just a tiny sample of the evening's selection of sweets. LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

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For some, it’s a place to hang out with friends. For others, it’s a place to feel wanted.
For local teens, the Altona Youth for Christ (The Station) is always a place where they’re welcome.
The organization held their annual dessert fundraiser last week, seeking support for another year of being a presence in the lives of youth in the community.
The event took place at Seeds Church in Altona, drawing a record number of regular supporters. There were tables loaded with sweets of every shape and form.
That, of course, was a big draw.
But the other draw was the sense of fellowship and appreciation they wanted to show for the drop-in centre’s two directors: Sheridan Sawatzky and Marty Falk, and the work that they do.
Falk thanked all the volunteers who help at The Station. He gave a special thank you to those who supply food for the kids who hang out there.
“People love to give us cookies. In a year, we eat about 5,000 cookies at the centre. Food is an important part of our ministry.”
Falk went on to share some of the programming available at YFC. “We try to find things that interest them. Every kid is different, and we want this to be a place where they can just be themselves, no matter what’s going on in their lives.”

Music for the Altona Youth for Christ Dessert Night fundraiser was provided by local band, Brothers Keep. LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

Guest speaker Jim Harms was the founder of YFC in Steinbach in 1989. He stepped down as director in 2016, but still plays an active role in the ministry.
He shared the little known fact that YFC International began back in 1945, with Billy Graham as its first director. “From that, they’ve spun off into many other ministries, always with the specific focus of ministering to teens who are falling through the cracks.”
Harms said YFC Canada is stronger now than it’s been in a long time. When asked how it’s changed since he came on board 30 years ago, he said, “When I started, lots of kids knew who Jesus was. Today, most of the kids we see have no clue. There’s been a shift in the last three decades, so we have work to do.”
He said it’s rewarding to see what an impact the organization has had.
“But there are those heartbreaking stories, too. When you see a kid you’ve poured your heart into make poor choices. But it’s their journey. We want to fix kids’ lives. They need to fix their own lives, but with the caring, loving people that come around them.”
Richard Bage of the Altona Bergthaler Church thanked all the supporters who have stood with the organization through the years.
“Thank you for doing all you can to help Marty and Sheridan in this ministry, and going out of your way to show your support for the ongoing work of Youth for Christ here in Altona.”