– Excerpts from an interview with Dave Holm, Director (February 19th, 2015)
DAN: I’m on the phone this afternoon with Dave Holm, the Director of Spiritual Life. Dave, one of the foundational fibers of Quakerdale’s ministry is Prevention. We talk about how we provide opportunities of prevention, education, and support. Pastor Dave, talk with us a little bit about Prevention. What are some things you have seen that help indicate that preventive measures are really, really, really, important to include in our Spiritual Life programming?
DAVE: What I have seen over the years is the tremendous damage from either dysfunctional or absent families. That seems to be the greatest hindrance and the biggest cause of problem behavior among our youth, and probably youth culture. Kids have come to us with all types of behavior of their own that’s negative, but also the fallout of negative behavior that they have been a part of. Prevention, there, I look at as being inner-generational. I think that probably one of the strongest things we can offer, other than immediate remedy, or opportunity for change, is the long-term look I have set with youth for years, individually and in group, and apologized for my generation when they talk about their parents, or the absence of a parent, or no dad. I was walking down the sidewalk here in Waterloo a while back and meta boy turning 18.
I said to him, “Well, what are you going to do when you turn 18?”
He says, “‘Well, I’m going to go live with my dad.”
I said, “Well that’s good. Where’s he live?”
“Oh” he says, “He’s in Michigan.”
“Well” I said, “When’s the last time you saw him?”
And he said, “I’ve never met him.”
Obviously, he never did end up there. He left our campus in an ambulance. I think the frustration and the imminence of turning 18 with no place to go really took a toll.
I work with the young people through role modeling of others, connecting them with church families, with our staff, with others who – like volunteers — role model. And I’ll tell them, you know, regardless of what your family has been in the past, your family that you become a part of in five to ten years, can be different. You can break the inner-generational trends and develop stability. Of course that’s a set of tools, that’s a set of skills, that’s a faith-walk that brings that to pass. But, proactively, looking at not just a temporary or even permanent solution to the existing, how can you structure your life so that these challenges aren’t a part of your lives going forward for your children, so they’re not dropped off at the shelter. How can you impact that, and look forward to that?
I have found grandparents to be our greatest asset in area churches. Youth activity is good. It’s always well received, and it plays an important role socially. But impacts have been most significant with grandparents. This is seen with the garden people who are coming to the cottages now. Many of our youth haven’t been in healthy relationships with people in this age group. I encourage them to look long in their life, and to walk in a different way.
Other areas would be connecting with churches, encouraging them in the family education and preventative measures by proactively addressing problems before they happen by culturing lifestyles that will not fall into the hardships that many experienced. So the preventative is really a part of the solution in the remedial or corrective. And with Quakerdale’s effort to accelerate the preventative through the basketball program and through a variety of our other ministries, I think the outcome can become tremendous.
I have the kids quote, Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall. And of course no one could put him together, but then the last line is, but God can. But isn’t it better if Humpty doesn’t fall off the wall in the first place? We can keep more Humpty’s from falling off the wall through role modeling, through the belief that in fact it can be different for them. They don’t have to live the lives that they grew up living. We give them the skills, the tools, and the encouragement to move on. We’ve always offered scholarship to youth if they look toward
s training beyond high school in college or trade school. It’s very important to create that influence that will point them in the right direction.
Specific training in relational connections – I try and help our staff see churches as resource centers. Not a place to get things, but when a youth is long past being with us, they see an area neighborhood church as a place to build a healthy direction. A place to resource family training, rather than the typical mindset of a church being a place to just go sit and listen, to see it as a place to get developed and trained. I think that the efforts that are being made are excellent. The young men in the five years of the basketball program who have gone out into scholarship and to college, I would like to see a 160 years of that. Could we even tabulate/count the damaged lives that would be avoided? We can’t, you know it would be theoretical. Picture young people not only leaving Quakerdale, but leaving a four-year college system in healthy environment.
DAN: As we wind up our time together, I would just like you to comment on one more thing, and we’ll wrap it up here. There are a lot of other agencies now out there that do very similar things to Quakerdale, service organizations. Quakerdale has intentionally infused the Spiritual Life component that many haven’t. What do you see, or what advantage do you think it gives Quakerdale by incorporating this in the lives of individuals, especially as it relates to preventive measures? How does Spiritual Life give Quakerdale an extra tool or a leg up in terms of being more successful at helping people through these kinds of challenges?
DAVE: Quakerdale has the ability to go a step further, more than a step further, to leap beyond traditional care by treating the whole person; the body, soul, and spirit together. We understand that physical needs are often tied to a person’s psychological context and a person’s psychology is rooted in their pneumatology, or their spiritual life. We’ve heard of tremendous changes back over the years from young people. Lives were altered, by faith in Christ, by the nurturance of a church family, and by the reality of the power of God at work in their lives. They are not only different, but totally changed beyond traditional levels of treatment care. And I’m not referring to my touch; I’m referring to the fact that the agency has, over the years, emphasized the reality of the power of a Christian life. It’s been role modeled, it’s been observed. We’ve heard it from youth that have come back. I heard it today from a youth that was here 21 years ago. Our spiritual lives have the tremendous ability to give the necessary tools.
If the Bible is real, if Christianity is valid, then in fact, life without that component is at best inadequate. When we look at our culture, we can put computers on wrist watches, but we can’t seem to fix the tremendous damage to personal lives. That only comes through Christ. And we’ve been able to do that across the board in all of our ministries. It’s been exciting to see it happen. And the stories that have come back, the observations have really verified the fact that that component is the life difference for many.
DAN: Well, David, I want to thank you so much for taking timeout to visit with us about Prevention, for the work that Spiritual Life is doing, and your work with volunteers. We look forward to seeing the difference that Quakerdale is going to continue to make in people’s lives all across the State of Iowa as a result of the work God is doing through Spiritual Life. So, thanks for your time.
DAVE: Thank you, Dan.
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