About The Center

After moving into a new facility in the spring of 2004, Community of Hope Church in Columbia City, Ind., had a dream. Having outgrown their building at 201 West Market Street and moving into a new one, they now pondered what to do with their old building. Could this facility become the center of a new movement to grow happy and healthy young people?

From that dream and a partnership with the Community Foundation of Whitley County was born The Center for Whitley County Youth.

In December 2006, Community of Hope Church and The Center were legally separated, and today The Center has achieved its goal of becoming a broad-based community partnership, promoting youth development in the community through service, outreach and collaboration with like-minded youth-serving organizations.

By providing after-school, weekend and summer programming and facility space for other youth organizations, while partnering on important initiatives to support our young people, The Center has become a hub for impacting the next generation of leaders, families, citizens, and the workforce.

Our Mission

"To promote youth development
through service, outreach, and collaboration"

Our Impact

During the 2022-2023 school year, The Center served 1057 student enrollments through 14 diverse program opportunities. This impact is all thanks to the financial and volunteer partnerships of local community members. Click below to view our most recent impact report.

Our Financials

At The Center, we believe in full transparency and providing our generous supporters the knowledge they need to make informed giving decisions. Click to view our most recent Form 990 report!

Our Board

RD Schrader - President
Jim Sittler - Vice President
Kyle Bauer - Treasurer
Roberta Hollenbaugh - Secretary
Amanda Schortgen
Katie Dewitt
Michelle Lee
Skiler Lehman
Stan Reiff

Our Staff

Jeff Wike - Executive Director
Brad Boyles- Director of Operations & Outcomes
Jake Johnson - Director of Development
Shawna Balsiger- Director of Middle School Programs
Maren Gernhardt- Director of Communications
Sarah Johnson- Director of Finances & Human Resources
Kylee Gudeman- Columbia City Program Director
Kate Boehnlein- Churubusco Program Director
Noah Reichenbach- Whitko Program Director
Alexandria Warren- Development Associate
Jill Stetzel - Office Manager
Jacie Stahl- LifeWise Program Director
Jayda Gregory- Whitko Programming Assistant
Evan Camomile- Whitko Programming Intern
Terry Dailey- Director of Facility Maintenance

Our Staff Team


Executive Director                          

Email Jeff | (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Youth Ministry at Grace College
  • B.A. in Biblical Studies at Grace College
  • Graduate Degree in Intercultural Studies at Grace Theological Seminary
  • Certification in Fund Raising Management from IU's Fund Raising School
  • National D Coaching License- US Soccer

Jeff was The Center’s first employee, hired as the director in 2005 to help launch and develop the organization and its programming.

Life-giving activities for Jeff include most outdoor endeavors (hiking, camping, fly fishing, backpacking), road trips, family time, playing/coaching soccer, and spiritual retreats. Jeff also enjoys "keeping things simple and helping young people discover their own God-given potential."


Director of Operations & Outcomes      

Email Brad | (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Communication with a Minor in English from Bluffton University
  • M.A. in Biblical Studies from Redemption Seminary (in progress)

Brad has been involved at the Center as a volunteer and program director and now serves as the director of operations and outcomes. He enjoys working with data and technology to help the organization run more efficiently and effectively. Brad was an associate pastor for 9 years before stepping into his current role at The Center.

Life-giving activities for Brad include recreational activities, spending time with family/friends, and helping people find their God-given potential.


Director of Development                             

Email Jake | (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Sports Management from Huntington University

Jake was onboarded at The Center in 2021 as The Center's Director of High School Programs. Recently Jake has stepped into a higher level of leadership at The Center and is now responsible for overseeing The Center's fundraising efforts and community partnerships. Jake continues to serve faithfully at The Center because he loves walking alongside students as they transform and grow into adults who will themselves pour into our Whitley County community. 

A fun fact about Jake is that he once took a hiatus from his previous work life and explored and hiked around parts of the United States.  


Director of Middle School Programs

Email Shawna | (260) 248-4977


  • B.A. in Missions from Huntington University
  • B.A. in Youth Ministry from Huntington University

Shawna graduated from Huntington University with degrees in Missions and Youth Ministry in 2018. She met her husband, Nick, at HU and they love the life they are creating together! Nick is a pastor at a local church in Huntington and they love doing ministry together. Together they have their dog, Frannie, who is the cutest dog in the history of all dogs.

Shawna loves to interact with students and hear their laughter at After School Central. She believes in her students and understands how much can change in your teenage years from personal experience. Jesus has changed her life and she is privileged to be a part of growing His Kingdom at Whitko. In her free time, Shawna loves to go on country walks with Nick and Frannie, have random dance parties, and grab coffee with her friends.


Director of Student Growth         

Email Krista| (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Social Work from Taylor University
  • Certified Life Coach

Krista joined our staff team in July of 2019. For the past 17 years, she served students at T.R.O.Y. Center and has been involved in youth development for 24+ years. Krista played an integral role in programming as a volunteer when The Center first opened in 2005 and is excited to invest deeply in students' lives through her newly created staff role.

Life-giving activities for Krista include volunteering with her church’s youth ministry, mentoring teens, attending local events, and spending time with her family. Krista loves building authentic relationships with students! She empowers students by encouraging, loving, and speaking truth to them in ways that assist them in reaching their God-given potential!


Development Associate & CC Program Director

Email Maren | (260) 248-4977


  • M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
  • Graduate Level Certificate in Philanthropic Fundraising from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 
  • Graduate Level Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental
  • Certificate in Fund Raising Management from The Fund Raising School

Maren joined The Center's team of passionate leaders in the summer of 2020. Maren continues to serve with The Center because she is passionate about philanthropy and youth. In Maren's free time, you can find her with her family, enjoying plain black coffee, and playing tug-a-war with her Belgian Malinois! 


Office Manager

Email Jill | (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Middle School Math Education at Manchester University
  • M.S. in School Administration from Indiana University

Jill joined The Center team in April 2022 after being a stay-at-home mom for 9 years and a math teacher at Indian Springs Middle School for the previous 9 years.

Jill loves Jesus, vacationing with her family, reading, being active with her kids, quality time with her husband, and watching sports!


Lifewise Program Director

Email Jacie | (260) 248-4977


When The Center decided to pursue opening a LifeWise Academy site in 2022, Jacie stepped up to fill the role of LifeWise Academy Whitley County Director. Jacie is passionate about Jesus and youth and truly is an essential asset to the success of LifeWise Whitley County!

Jacie enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two sons. 


Director of Finance and Human Resources

Email Sarah| (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Accounting from Grace College

Sarah first started at The Center in the fall of 2021 as the After School Central Programming Assistant and Office Manager. While at The Center, Sarah discovered her passion for nonprofit accounting and transitioned to The Center's Director of Finance and Human Resources.

In Sarah's free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and her church community. 


Whitko Program Director

Email Noah| (260) 248-4977


  • B.A. in Youth Ministry from Huntington University
  • B.A. in Special Needs Ministry from Huntington University

During his undergraduate studies at Huntington University, Noah was introduced to The Center while attending a youth pastor conference in Florida. As he delved into The Center's mission, vision, and programs, he developed a profound sense of affinity for the organization. In the summer of 2023, Noah joined The Center as a highly-valued member of the team.

Noah finds rejuvenation in various activities. He cherishes walks with his wife, Leah, and their pit-bull hound mix, Mila. Additionally, he takes pleasure in golfing, quality time with family, and indulging in video games.


Program Co-Director

Email Kylee| (260) 248-4977


  • B.S. in Sociology from Grace College
  • B.S. in Counseling from Grace College

During the 2021-2022 school year, Kylee served as a volunteer for The Center's After School Central-Columbia City program. Kylee formed deep connections with the middle school girls and found her passion for youth ministry.

Kylee enjoys backpacking in the mountains. Give Kylee a backpack, sleeping bag, and some dried fruit and she is set for a rugged adventure filled with hiking and nature! 


Churubusco Program Director

Email Kate| (260) 248-4977


  • A.A. in Human Services from Ohio Christian University
  • B.A. in Ministry with a specialization in Biblical Counseling from West Coast Bible College and Seminary

In the autumn of 2023, Kate became a valued member of The Center's dedicated leadership team. Her deep-seated passion lies in fostering community and empowering youth to thrive, making The Center an ideal platform to align with her personal and professional aspirations. Kate's sources of vitality encompass travel, hiking, and forging new connections. An interesting tidbit about Kate is that during a mission trip, she managed to craft 25 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in just 12 minutes!


Director of Facility Maintenance

(260) 248-4977



Whitko Programming Assistant

Email Jayda| (260) 248-4977



Whitko Programming Intern

Email Evan| (260) 248-4977