Loving Kids, Changing Lives – A conversation with Katie Nickitas Tallman

Written by admin on Nov 11, 2019 in - No Comments

Loving Kids, Changing Lives
A conversation with Katie Nickitas Tallman

Katie Nickitas loves baseball, hockey, cooking, visiting the ocean, and spending time with her husband Luke and their three dogs.Now in her fifth year serving as the Young Life area director for Chittenden County, Katie previously volunteered with Young Life in Addison County for four years. Young Life is an international outreach to youth in over 100 countries and in every U.S. state. In the conversation that follows, she shares why she is passionate about Young Life and some of the exciting Young Life developments and opportunities slated for fall and winter.

 First of all, what is Young Life, and what is your role?

In a nutshell, we invite kids to follow Christ, care for them regardless of their response, and change lives in the process.As a leader, my job is to spend time with kids on their turf and on their terms. Many leaders coach, help with drama and other school clubs, or chaperone school events. The goal is to become part of the community where Young Life kids go to school. I substitute teach, attend a lot of games, and volunteer-lead a class council group.

In my development role, I recruit adults who want to support Young Life. I also help recruit leaders, adults who wish to build relationships with high schoolers and share Jesus with them.

Would you tell us a little about your own story and why Young Life is so important to you?

Young Life leaders walked into my world when I was 14 and broken. I was struggling with relationships, and I didn’t know who I was or what I believed. I met Jesus at a Young Life camp, and it changed the trajectory of my whole life. Now I get to be the one who shows up for kids, calls them by name, and walks with them to the foot of the cross. The whole reason I’m doing this is because in the middle of my mess, someone showed up for me.

What do you love about your job?

I love that Young Life is for every kid that and we get to follow Jesus’ example by loving every kid. We don’t look at labels. We simply love kids because they’re God’s creation and they deserve the opportunity to hear about who Jesus is.

What is something you find challenging about your work?

Our culture doesn’t really create room for relationships. We’re starving for relationships of value and merit, but instead we’re on social media and our phones, distracted from true, authentic relationships. Phones make it easy to pretend we’re someone else—any version of ourselves that we want to give the world. This is the case for kids, but it is also the case for the adults we reach out to as well. 

What have you been learning lately from the youth you work with?

That the little things are important, and you can never laugh at yourself too much. They also teach me joy. When I spend time with them, it is so easy to see the world through their eyes and their delight.

Tell us about some of the exciting things happening with Young Life this fall and winter.

Wyld Life Camp for middle schoolers started in October, and in November, we’re starting Wyld Life Club, also for middle schoolers. We’re currently recruiting adults to work with students and are forming a supporting subcommittee—a group of caring adults invested in the initiative’s progress and growth.

This winter, we’ll be starting up Capernaum, Young Life’s special needs ministry for ages 14–22. We’re currently recruiting caring adults to lead meetings with the kids and spend time with them one-on-one or in groups. We’re also forming a supporting subcommittee and looking for an accessible place to host students.

What are you excited about regarding Wyld Life and Capernaum?

I love that we’re creating community and giving kids opportunities to ask difficult questions and explore difficult answers as they develop who they are and what they believe. What if we really believed that what Jesus said is true, and we portrayed that to middle and high schoolers, including those with disability?—You’re a child of God. You have worth. You have dignity.I think about how difficult those years are and how hard it is to fit in. What if they found their purpose in their relationship with God?

How can people support or become involved with Young Life?

Here are three specific ways to get involved:

  • Be a leader (spend time building relationships with students)
  • Serve on committee (we need caring adults to help spread the word and build interest in the community)
  • Give, which can be done through our website: giving.younglife.org/chittcoyl

Anyone interested in learning more is welcome to attend our dessert banquet on Thursday November 14th, where there will be ministry updates, fundraising updates, delicious desserts, and a glimpse of what’s ahead for Young Life in the coming year.

Delicious desserts…That sounds wonderful! What dessert are you secretly hoping will be served at the Banquet?

Anything with pumpkin!

You can RSVP for the banquet here: https://vt22.younglife.events/chittenden-county-young-life-fall-banquet

Read more about Young Life here: http://chittco.younglife.org/