Young Life Celebrates 50 Years in Gainesville


Young Life’s time in Gainesville is marked with measurable development in the community and priceless personal growth in its members. As the group celebrates its 50th anniversary, it looks humbly at its past and excitedly at its future.

For 50 years, Gainesville kids have navigated their adolescent years with joy and support from Young Life. All over the city, kids with different backgrounds, family lives and denominations share the precious system of encouragement and friendship.

“It’s a place of welcoming,” said leader Erika Oakvik. “It’s a place to be known and to be loved.”

Since its beginning, the community-based outreach ministry has exploded throughout the community. In recent years, clubs have garnered participation from enough schools in their region to branch off into East Gainesville and West Gainesville groups. The organization now includes six clubs, nine schools, 400 kids and 80 volunteer leaders.

Programs reach a variety of Gainesville youth – WyldLife for middle school students, Young Life for high school students and Young Life College for Santa Fe College and the University of Florida.

Erika has been a leader for West Gainesville high school students since her freshman year at UF in 2011. The group – nine college leaders and 50 to 70 students from Buchholz High School and Oak Hall School – meets weekly at the Plantation Hall in the Haile Village Center for club.

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