A good old-fashioned hoe down, complete with bluegrass music, cowboy boots and cutoff overalls, was the order of the day recently at Smithview Pavilion.
The Sept. 20 hoe down was this year’s theme for Blount County Young Life’s annual fall banquet.
Clay Bagby, area director of Young Life in Blount County, said the event, which the county chapter has hosted since the late 1980s, is a way to raise money for their next fiscal year and to share what Young Life does in local high schools.
“Tonight we’re really trying to communicate what we are about to the whole community,” Bagby said.
The organization’s main mission statement is to focus on building relationships with teenagers and to show them how to build a relationship with Christ, Bagby said. The local chapter is involved in all four high schools in Blount County with each high school club meeting once a week.
“I know it made a huge difference in my life, and I’ve been able to see students whose relationships with the Lord have been created and grown unbelievably through their relationship with their leaders, because of Young Life,” Bagby said.
Bagby said the chapter chose a casual atmosphere for the fundraiser this year. Blount County Young Life’s budget for next fiscal year, which starts the beginning of October, is set at more than $236,000.
“We’re trying to figure out what it’s going to take to grow this event to have more folks be able to attend. We’re hoping that we can get folks in the community who will support us in many ways,” Bagby said. “We need volunteer leaders badly, and we need new committee members to join us behind the scenes. We also need funding.”
The area director said the Young Life chapter gets a majority of their funding from regular church sponsors, corporate sponsors and families within the community.
Before the overcast skies turned to nightfall, guests gathered outside the pavilion and around white-clothed tables. Young Life students circled the grassy area ready to be the servers for the night. One of those serving was William Blount High School student Cody Baker. The senior has been a part of the group since his freshman year.
“It’s really helped strengthen my walk with Christ, and I really don’t know how strong of a relationship I would have had with Him without Young Life,” Baker said.
“We have a real positive group at William Blount, and I think we really make a big change with the student body,” Baker said.
The event was indeed a hoe down, with humorous skits, a bluegrass band playing and a chorus of sing-alongs with lyrics strung on old bed sheets so folks could participate.
But after the fun and games, the event turned to a serious note as the banquet focused on the need for funds and a snapshot of what Young Life does. Young Life students and leaders shared stories of their involvement in the group and what it has meant to them.
“It’s a night where we get to share the beauty of the stories of the kids who changed. Their lives will never be the same because of their direction with Jesus Christ,” Bagby said.
To help Young Life with time, talents or gifts, contact them at 865-977-9109, or stop by the office at 1410 Sevierville Rd., in the old Cherokee Sports building.