A lot of love, community and commitment can condense in a mere two decades of devotion, friendship and giving, as evidenced by The Valley Youth Network — an organization dedicated to providing local youth with spiritually positive venues.
On Nov. 17, the organization, helmed by the youth of the community, along with board members and most devoted leaders, Kip and Sandy Crumrine, celebrated a 20-year anniversary at the Barn at Ligonier Valley.
The anniversary dinner welcomed more than 200 attendees, including old friends, acquaintances and emotional testimony from those who have been touched by the organization.
Throughout those 20 years, VYN members have participated in everything from mission trips abroad, to volunteering with Hurricane Katrina, to helping local Ligonier residents to just hanging out on most nights, singing and commiserating, laughing, broadening and strengthening,
“The Valley Youth Network taught me how to lead, how to enter into tension and deal with conflict,” said speaker David Slebodnik, who graduated from Ligonier Valley High School in 2004. “I’m so proud to have been a part of that network of people.”
The Crumrines, though forever holding a humble poker faces, are the aces behind this community all-in. Sandy Crumrine, who holds a degree in elementary education, and Kip Crumrine, with a degree in recreational management and a minor in wilderness skills, both felt the calling to create more positive, active and spiritual activities for the youngsters in the Valley.
“VYN was such an important part of my children’s lives.” board member Cindy Pompelia said. “Both Sandy and Kip always deflect the praise, but they deserve it.”
That praise deflected is perhaps most strongly resurrected in the staunch faith and commitment VYN possesses, a strength carried by the youth of the community.
When VYN started, high school youths were hanging out in the borough parking lot. Now, you can hear them singing and enjoying time together at weekly events such as CHIL.
Kip Crumrine recalls, years ago, going to visit those students in the parking lot, playing the popular hacky sack game and getting to know the kids in the community.
“Those kids started to come to the Camp and Conference center and they became involved,” Kip Crumrine said. “Years later, they would come and speak about how those opportunities, though they maybe didn’t realize it then, really resonated and carried on with love and dedication later in life.”
Stories such as these are testament to what, with true humility and basic compassion, the VYN has given to so many others, both at home and abroad.
The anniversary evening ended with VYN members, along with Kip Crumrine, taking stage to sing an acoustic rendition of “How He Loves,” a favorite among VYN members. Audience guests weren’t shy in sharing vocals.
As for future plans, VYN isn’t an organization of set-appointed chronology, but one that relies on the camaraderie of members and on its sustenance — faith.
“We’re not about new, flashy things,” Kip Crumrine concluded. “We live in a community-we care and love for one another. As for the future, we just follow God’s lead.”
Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.