By Bernie Van Roekel
The last six years have flown by very quickly and this will be the last communication you will receive from me as SOY’s Executive Director. As most of you know, I have decided to retire and my wife, Marcia, and I will be moving to Lake Okoboji in Northwest Iowa.
Serving as SOY’s Executive Director has been a tremendous blessing in my life! I have learned a great deal during my time with you and have been lifted up by the constant support and encouragement from SOY’s network of supporters. I will certainly cherish my SOY experience as one of the most satisfying phases of my lifetime career of working with young people.
The past few years have taught me the importance of having a positive and enthusiastic group of co-workers who are motivated by God’s love and dedicated to sharing that love with others through their actions and efforts. I have witnessed colleagues giving tirelessly of their time to make a difference in the lives of young people, often times experiencing frustration and setbacks along the way, but never giving up in their efforts to secure volunteers and mentors.
I have also learned that SOY is led by a talented Board of Directors that gives selflessly of their time and expertise. Their work is done behind the scenes without receiving public recognition and gratitude. Through my involvement with them, I have learned to value the opportunities that are placed before us and have more empathy for what it takes to lead an organization like Serve Our Youth. I have learned that it is critical to have a vision for the strategic and financial planning that is required, while at the same time focusing on our mission-Extending God’s love and mercy to Iowa’s high-risk youth!
My time with SOY is certainly an example of God’s plan in my life. This was not a role I had ever envisioned; however, God put me in this position and my life has been blessed as a result. The SOY experience has shaped my life through a myriad of experience and personal interactions too numerous to mention. I have learned that it takes a group of very special people to commit to their job of making a difference in the lives of young people-even when the going gets tough! I have learned that we are faced with phenomenal opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. I have learned that God always provides and that we need to walk through the door he opens for us.
I have truly been blessed to have been a small part of this wonderful organization. My prayer is that God will continue to bless SOY and to provide opportunities to touch the lives of young people.