She started as an intern but after a year her supervisor moved on. Briana managed The Spot alone for two years before she was made the director. The young woman who did not "fit the description" of a youth worker has fallen in love with the job. "I love it more now than I ever did!" she says.
I talked to Briana as she was on her way to the Kleisick farm where she was picking up a donation of organic apples and bananas. "There are cows running across the field!" she laughed. "They must be going to get food!" I'm thinking it must have been a bit reminiscent of kids rushing the kitchen at The Spot!
A girls' Bible study meets on Monday afternoon and a boys' groups meets on Wednesdays. With a couple of winer camps plus day trips and a white water raft/rock climbing trip in July, there's lots for the kids to do. It's a significant ministry in the Stanwood/Camano community.
"But how did The Spot come to be?" you ask. Let me tell you about Ed Haslam.
Born in Japan in 1920, Ed's parents were missionaries. When they returned to the States his dad started a ministry to Japanese children in Seattle. Ed and his siblings would go with their dad on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, even when they were very young, and help their dad. And he never got over the love for working with children that was planted in his heart through this experience.
Ed loved kids, and kids knew it. His career was with the Seattle Public Schools, as a teacher and a principal, gave him a chance to express his interest in youth. And it was not uncommon for the kids in his neighbor to knock on his door and ask his wife or children if Ed could come out and play!
He retired and moved to Warm Beach in the 1970s and found his way into the lives of kids as a substitute teacher in the Stanwood Camano School District. It didn't take him long to realize that there was nothing for the young people of the community to do when they weren't in school. Just as Ed was dreaming of building a youth center for area kids, Seattle Youth for Christ contact him and asked if he'd work with them in Stanwood.
In 1985 The Spot opened its doors on Saturday nights at the old Lincoln School. The building was big, with too many rooms to supervise well, and the group was often rowdy. At first the evening agenda was entirely fun and games and when they added a five minute devotional they met with some resistance. That's when they decided to have a weekly drawing, right after devotions. You had to be there for devotions to get your name entered in the drawing!
Ed's enthusiasm for The Spot caught on as he visited churches in the area, talking about YFC, raising funds and recruiting volunteers. He promoted good will for the kids of the community as well as brought youth workers from various churches together to pray and plan.
In 1988, Ed received the Man of the Year award for Stanwood. His deep and abiding love for kids was God's gift to Ed and Ed's gift back to God. It blessed many and is still touching lives today.
(The Spot has been duplicated in two other communities in our region.)
* * * * * * * * *
(Yes You Can is a monthly feature that tells the story of someone who has had a dream, followed their dream, and made a difference in their world because of it.)