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Alaska Church Meets Teens at the Mall


Folks from Crossroads Community Christian Reformed Church in Anchorage, Alaska, are spending time at the mall, but not as consumers. They’re serving as volunteers at Parachutes, a drop-in center for teens.

Joel Kiekintveld, a member of the church, is the executive director of Parachutes. Located at the Dimond Mall, Parachutes offers activities for teens 13 through 18, such as video games, pool, computers, Ping-Pong, a small café, special events, and most important—caring adult volunteers who share their lives with teens. Almost half of those volunteers come from Crossroads.

Since it opened in 2003 in a renovated second-floor storefront, the drop-in center has seen more than 90,000 teen visitors.

“The teens we see daily are avoiding being at home as much as they can. They really are the modern orphans,” said Kiekintveld.

Volunteer Lis Hall said, “Basically, I serve up food and drinks to the teens who come to Parachutes, and, when business is slow, talk to those who hang out at the counter.”

Hall helps provide the continuity many teens are lacking elsewhere in their lives. Kiekintveld said, “We strive to keep Parachutes a safe and peaceful place. I think both of these things are ingredients in refuge.”

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