August, 16 2018

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Life Center Puts Young Adults On Right Path

Chris McGowan and Joey Wheeling admit they made some bad decisions during their TEEN years.

They partied, did drugs, and fell behind many of their peers.

�I made some mistakes in my life,� said McGowan, 25, a high school dropout who is now studying for an associate�s degree in business management.

Now that his life is on track, McGowan has become involved with starting the Life Center of Winchester, a faith-based outreach that helps young adults stay in school, find jobs, and avoid making bad decisions.

LIFE, which stands for Learning, Integrity, and Faith for Empowerment, is still in its infancy, but has already assembled a six-member board.

The group will provide young people, ages 15-25, with the support and guidance they need to lead productive lives, says Blane Medley, one of the founding members and co-pastor of Abundant Life Church in Winchester.

Homework assistance, tutoring, mentoring, career planning, workforce training, instruction in the arts, and recreation opportunities are just some of the services the LIFE Center plans offer its clients, he said.

To kick off the new year, Wheeling is organizing a PlayStation 2 tournament. Potential clients will be able to test each other�s skills at Madden 2005 football game.

Wheeling, 25, got involved with the LIFE Center after he saw some TEENS who were heading down a bad path while serving as wrestling coach at Daniel Morgan Middle School.

It made Wheeling, now a business management major at Lord Fairfax Community College, think back to the TROUBLED life he led years earlier. He wanted to connect with those TEENS and HELP them to steer clear of making life-damaging choices.

McGowan and Wheeling often talked about working with young people. One day, McGowan called the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce to ask about area youth PROGRAMS.

It just so happened that Medley, who is the chamber�s financial manager, had similar ideas about starting a young adult outreach. When Medley answered the phone at the chamber office, he and McGowan began bouncing ideas off one another.

Medley said that while PROGRAMS HELPing children in elementary and middle school are plentiful in the Winchester area, those targeting older TEENS and 20-somethings aren�t as prevalent.

It seems children are �climbing a mountain,� when they are young and then �falling over the edge,� when they get older, he said.

Work on the LIFE Center�s goals started in May. McGowan, Wheeling, and Medley all serve on the board, which has already earned status as a registered nonprofit corporation and is now in the process of applying for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service.

But there�s still more work to do.

�We really need a location,� Medley said. The space can be small, but it will probably be used every day of the week.

From that spot, the group will offer PROGRAMS, being developed throughout 2005.

Clients will be treated as adults involved in partnerships leading them toward their goals, Medley said.

The young people will have not only shoulders to cry on, but also cheerleaders in their corners, he said. And when people leave the PROGRAM, each man knows what he�d like to see in a participant.

For McGowan, it�s someone who is succeeding and happy in what he or she is doing.

For Medley, it�s being grounded and balanced.

Wheeling said he�d like to see people leave with better decision-making skills.

Ultimately, the goal is to produce people with the tools to be successful adults, Medley said, adding that success isn�t about a certain car or job. It is bound up more in character and attitude � two qualities he hopes will grow into powerful assets for those who come to the LIFE Center.

For more information about the LIFE Center of Winchester, call (540) 664-5013 or [email protected]

Related Articles:
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Needs of troubled girls get new attention 1/4/05
Boot camp director convicted of manslaughter in teen's death 1/4/05
Overall drug use by teenagers declines 12/30/04
New program to offer challenging, life-changing experiences 12/29/04
Teen Ranch offers new youth program 12/27/04
Labyrinth helps teens find holiday tranquility 12/26/04
Troubled teen turning life around 12/22/04
Struggling mothers finding a way out 12/18/04
Adolescent treatment program to expand 7/24/04

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