For the first time in 26 years, the New Directions telethon is getting a makeover, Director of Youth Ministries Tonia McLanahan told The Times-Gazette.
From 1992 until January 2019, the New Directions telethon was the organization’s largest fundraiser. It was the standard telethon format—people could call in and pledge money while New Directions members shared stories about the effect the youth ministry had had on their lives throughout the live broadcast. In 2020, the fundraiser will shift platforms, McLanahan said. Though those who have donated during past telethons received letters in December, which explained the change and provided addressed envelopes so recipients could donate early, the fundraiser will take place on Facebook from Jan. 20 to 24.
“People who’ve made donations, we’ll still read their names and what they donated just like when the telethon happened,” McLanahan said. “We’ll record students reading those in advance, and then those will be part of the posts each day. I really think it’ll just reach more people. This way, you can watch it whenever it works for you; you don’t have to just watch it when it’s on.”
According to McLanahan, the content will still be similar—former and current New Directions members will share anecdotes and testimonies—but each day will have a specific theme, which will be announced at the beginning of each day of the fundraiser. Those who wish to donate will have a number they can text or call to make a pledge, but McLanahan said Facebook users can also make pledges in the comments on Facebook.
In 2019, New Directions raised about $20,000, and McLanahan said that’s their goal for 2020 as well. Any money raised is applied to New Directions’ operating costs.
“In May, New Directions was 30 years old. It has been funded by the community for 30 years, which is really amazing,” McLanahan said. “It’s very much supported by our local churches and the people who are part of our local Christian community. There are lots of people from different churches who work cooperatively to make New Directions happen. The official word is ‘ecumenical,’ which means all of those people are working together.”
New Directions is part of the Greenfield Area Christian Center. The organization offers groups for kids from third grade to high school, McLanahan said. These groups include Kid Connection, a group for third through fifth graders that meets on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Wildside, a group for middle school students that meets on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; and two high school bible study groups, one of which McLanahan said meets at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesdays at the Greenfield McDonald’s. On a weekly basis, McLanahan said between 70 and 90 kids participate in New Directions groups.
In addition to weekly groups, New Directions members participate in mission trips and service projects, McLanahan said.
“In November, we did a Servant Saturday, where we went to Elizabeth’s Hope Pregnancy Resources, which is another ministry in Greenfield, and raked all their leaves, cleaned their buildings, helped put things out that they needed,” McLanahan said.
In July, New Directions members went to Costa Rica, where they did service projects.
However, New Directions isn’t just made up of its student members.
“The major strengths of New Directions are the adults who work with our students,” McLanahan said. “We have adults who were students in the ministry when they were in high school or middle school.”
McLanahan said that one man has been volunteering practically since New Directions began 30 years ago, and his kids were involved, and now his grandchildren are too.
“I think the reason that New Directions has existed all these years is because of community support and that students who come there feel accepted and cared for,” McLanahan said. “The ministry has been blessed by God because we’ve been faithful in sharing his love with students in our community.”
Adults interested in volunteering with New Directions should contact Tonia McLanahan at email@example.com or 937-661-0197 to get an application. Adults are required to submit references and a statement about their faith and must undergo a background check and training.
Though Director of Youth Ministries Tonia McLanahan said the organization’s hopes to eventually accept online donations, those who wish to donate in the meantime should mail checks to P.O. Box 26, Greenfield, Ohio 45123. To stay up-to-date with New Directions, like or follow the “New Directions” Facebook page, which can be found by searching “@NDYMGreenfield.” Most New Directions groups meet at 910 N. Fifth St. in Greenfield. However, all New Directions groups are on winter break. Weekly programs will resume Jan. 14.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.