Everyone deserves a fun night out — that’s what Karen Hogman believes.
And twice a month, she gets to give that night out to a group students and young adults who might need it most.
Hogman is the Young Life Capernaum coordinator for the greater Tacoma area, which includes Puyallup.
Young Life Capernaum is a program specifically designed for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and gives them “the chance to experience fun and adventure, to develop fulfilling friendships and to challenge their limits while building self-esteem through club, camp and other exciting activities.”
Puyallup resident Karen Hogman started Young Life Capernaum in the greater Tacoma area four years ago.
Hogman, a Puyallup resident, started the group four years ago. A 1978 Puyallup High School graduate, Hogman worked at the Puyallup School District for 14 years as a paraeducator in a behavior class. She loved working with her students.
When she first started a local Young Life Capernaum club, there weren’t many places people with disabilities could go for a fun night out.
“What makes Young Life Capernaum really special is we just care about our friends and we want to see them grow into all the potentials that they have,” she said. “When you come to club there’s so much joy there. It gives them friendships, it gives them faith, it gives them hope.”
The program meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month at Life Center Church in Tacoma. On average, about 20 participants show up at every meeting, in addition to a handful of volunteers and parents.
Puyallup resident Rachel Fenick started volunteering at the club about nine months ago and loved it.
“I think volunteering is something everyone should do,” she said. “It gets you into a new world — and this world is beautiful. The kids here have an extra sense of that beauty. They exude life.”
I think volunteering is something everyone should do. It gets you into a new world — and this world is beautiful. The kids here have an extra sense of that beauty. They exude life.
Rachel Fenick, Young Life Capernaum volunteer
“What I love most is that they’re so authentic and genuine,” added Puyallup volunteer Carissa Lewis. “They’re joyful.”
Edgewood resident Stuart Lawrence, 30, has been attending Young Life Capernaum for several years. He’s close with Hogman, and together the two drop by McDonald’s for fries every Sunday after church at Lighthouse Christian Center in Puyallup.
Lawrence said at a Feb. 22 meeting, he loves “just hanging out with the girls and having food and the raffle and playing games.”
At the meeting, the members got to know one another better by playing a matching game and asking their partners questions. Then, they gathered together for a reading before raffling off some prizes.
While the members might face everyday challenges many others don’t, they’re nothing but smiles and laughter at Young Life.
“They make friends with each other, they have this sweet, genuine joyful attitude toward one another,” Hogman said.
Young Life Capernaum meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month at Life Center Church in Tacoma.
The next Young Life Capernaum meeting is at 6:30 p.m. March 8 at Life Center Church, 1717 S. Union Ave., Tacoma.
Karen hopes to open more Young Life Capernaum clubs in the area, including Puyallup. Last month, the Lakewood-Steilacoom Young Life Capernaum club held its first meeting. They meet at 6:30 the first and third Thursday of every month at Christ Lutheran Church, 8211 112th St. SW, Lakewood.
For more information about Young Life Capernaum, visit younglife.org.
Tacoma-Puyallup chapter: Meets at 6:30 p.m. every second and fourth Thursdays at Life Center Church, 1717 S. Union Ave., Tacoma. The next meeting is March 8.
Lakewood-Steilacoom chapter: Meets at 6:30 every first and third Thursdays at Christ Lutheran Church, 8211 112th St. SW, Lakewood.