Ginger Teaseley “The whole idea of ‘Young Life’ programs is building relationships. And once you know a kid, you’re going to know them, hopefully, for the rest of their life.”

Ginger Teaseley—force of nature and SMC Summer Intern—when asked how long she’d been at SMC howled with glee and shouted, “Forever!” But even ‘forever’ sometimes is too little time to make up one’s mind about a whole life’s direction. “I’ve gone from psych to child development, and my latest direction is towards a program called Urban Studies at Northridge,” says Ginger. “I want to work helping kids and people but I just don’t know how it’s going to manifest itself yet.” But one of the ways Ginger’s desire to help people manifested itself this past summer was her stint as an SMC Summer Intern to the Young Life program.

“Young Life is a nonprofit organization that works with minority kids at risk,” says Ginger. “We provide them with a fun and safe place to come to. These are kids who have no stability—financial or otherwise—and there’s a lot of gang activity and teenage pregnancy. Most often they have a total lack of hope, and we just try to tell them we love them. And sometimes that’s hope enough.” And dealing with feelings of hopelessness is something Ginger herself can relate to.

“I was a Young Life kid myself in Arizona,” she recalls. “I was in a really bad situation, and my group leader there really saved my life. So I just want to be able to return the favor. And that’s the best part of it for me because I know there’s a lot of kids out there who are feeling just like I did.” Ginger says that “going wherever the kid is” is the most important part of her work. “These are kids that are dealing with issues of sex and drugs and gangs and death—things I never had to deal with in high school,” she says. “And when you make that effort to go and hang out with them—even though Young Life’s is a real laid-back approach—it’s a real practical way to tell kids how much they’re worth.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.