Student dedicates time to helping others: Spreading love locally and world wide

YoungLife Leader impacts youth

By Victoria Lacy
On October 25, 2013

As a YoungLife leader for high school students in the San Angelo area, Senior Carly Peters spends several nights a week in the YoungLife clubroom, located in a converted storage area connected to the Pregnancy Help Center on Sherwood Way.

 "She gets what YoungLife is about," Mark McDaniel, a fellow YoungLife leader said. "She gets that it's relational ministry and she understands what it takes to really pour into kids and love on kids regardless of where they are."

Peters is graduating in May, and like many college students, doesn't know exactly what she wants to do with her life. She isn't letting uncertainty hold her back though.  She's using this transition time to help others.

Peters and other ASU students volunteer their time to connect with local high school students by creating a safe environment where they can have fun and be accepted. They do this by hosting "Club" on Monday nights and connecting with the kids throughout the week in various ways.

Each summer, YoungLife students are given the opportunity to attend a camp for a week where they can learn about God and connect with their friends and college leaders.

In addition to working with San Angelo high school students year-round, Peters worked as a staff member, a student leader and a volunteer at four different YoungLife camps this summer.

One of the camps Peters volunteered at is in Mombasa, Kenya.

 As she reminisced about Africa, Peters sat in front of a large cloth banner that has words of friendship printed on it in an African language. The banner was given to her from the host of the camp. The literal meaning gets lost in translation, but it means "good friends."

At 5'11 with waist-length blonde hair that is usually pulled back with a brightly colored head band, Peters would stand out in any room, but in Africa, her golden hair and blue eyes drew people to her. "People asked to braid my hair every other minute, she said as she shrugged her shoulders. "I had to keep stopping so they could have a turn."   

It's unlikely that her hair is the only reason her new friends wanted to be around her though. This is the third year Carly has been a college leader for YoungLife, and working with high school age kids is something that comes naturally to her.  

According to the organization's website, YoungLife starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don't happen overnight - they take time, patience, trust and consistency."

"She's got this group of girls that just love her," McDaniel said. "I don't know what she does; it's just her personality... I guess the way that she's able to relate to them. This group of girls, every time that Carly walks in, they run in and jump on her and just get so excited that she's there."

In Kenya, where Peters was in charge of the kitchen and dining room area, she got to know her crew as they made rice and meat in a huge pot "that you could swim in" and cleaned industrial sized kitchen supplies in a tiny sink.

She has nothing but praise for the Kenyan volunteers at the camp.

One night in Mombasa, all the lights went out in the middle of clean-up and no one stopped working "I was in this dark room washing dishes by hand trying to find the water and there were people all around me trying to do the same thing, which was really cool," she said.

Peters said that working with kids can be intimidating at first, but the more she does it, the easier it gets.

Whether she is in Africa for five days, or San Angelo for three years, Peters has a gift for connecting with people.

"Carly never doesn't show up because she's tired or she has homework," junior Monica McCafferty said. "It's always a priority."

Peters credits the YoungLife organization for giving her a community and loving her for who she is.

"Now, all I want to do is show everyone I encounter the same unfailing love that I have found," Peters said. "I have realized how insignificant the things I used to value are - like getting a job that pays really well and being well liked- and have been instead considering a career involving Young Life."

Although she doesn't have concrete plans for the future right now, she has a positive outlook on life.

"I'm not sure where I'll end up, but wherever I go, there will be people that need to be loved," she said.

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