2023 Impact COMO Award Winner
Most Impactful Staff Member
Young Life Columbia
Luke Neal was once a teenager searching for meaning and purpose when his Young Life leader stepped in and helped him develop a relationship with Jesus. Now, Luke has worked for Young Life for over 20 years, showing up for high school kids in the same way.
“Young Life meets kids wherever they are in their lives and introduces them to Jesus Christ,” says Sherry Colwell. “Luke quite literally meets kids exactly where they are at, whether that be on a sports field, in the student section of the bleachers on game night, endless coffee gatherings and lunch dates — you name it, Luke is there.”
Neal realizes the importance of having mentors, noting, “There are about 5,500 high school students in our community. If the statistics are true, most of them are lonely, hurting, and anxious. They need adults to walk alongside them in order to navigate this difficult phase of life.”
As the area director, Neal has a variety of roles and responsibilities, including fundraising events, donor development, board recruitment and care, volunteer recruitment and training, event planning, strategic planning, community outreach, and direct work with students. All of this is done to ensure high school students are able to have a safe place to grow in their faith, regardless of their financial circumstances.
Neal adds, “I was put here on this earth to make a difference in the lives of others. At the end of my life, I will not find joy in reflecting on how green my yard was, how big my house was, or how many vacations I went on. But I will find great joy in the people that I met and how God was able to use my small sacrifices to impact those around me.”
Colwell adds, “This is an incredibly time-consuming position and Luke always has a smile on his face. He is shaping the youth of COMO’s future. It is incredible to hear the stories of the lives he has changed and how far he has reached.”