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Joshua House provides a safe haven for interested youth of Tyrone area

The ‘Joshua House’ in Tyrone, under the direction of Jim Kilmartin, has been providing a safe haven for the past four years for Tyrone teenagers. Whether Kilmartin’s efforts have gone unnoticed or not, his mission follows his heart and many teens who attend the facility appreciate the impact Kilmartin has had on each of their lives.
The Joshua House is open after school hours from 3 to 4 p.m. for what Kilmartin calls a ‘study hour’ or ‘quiet hour,’ so kids can come and do homework, study, or even get tutored. There are computers available with internet access to help with homework.
From 4 to 6 p.m. the facility is open so the kids can basically hang out, giving Kilmartin the opportunity to build relationships with them while the kids do the same with each other. The Joshua House is like a refuge for youth of all ages, keeping them from the negative atmospheres that sometimes exist in Tyrone.
The kids can play billiards, ping pong, playstation, watch television and even get something to eat such as snacks. There are an average of 20-25 different kids who come in every night to enjoy a relaxing and educational time with friends.
On Thursday evenings, Kilmartin and the Joshua House holds a teen bible study teaching the fundamental basics about Christianity and how to follow God. It isn’t a requirement for the kids, but it is available for those who are interested.
“We’ve been averaging 15-20 kids that come to bible study,” said Kilmartin. “They are all unchurched kids, which is really cool, because sometimes you get accused of stealing kids from youth groups, but these aren’t youth group kids – they’re regular kids who don’t go to church, people who are just interested and want to know a little more about God.”
Kilmartin believes that he is leading these Tyrone youth in the right direction. He said that there are times when he has to fight off disappointment, but he knows that there are numbers of kids who’s lives are being impacted drastically.
He continued, “There are some lives being changed for the good, and then for the others who might not be so interested in God or spiritual things, they come here and I can’t get down about it, because I have to realize what I might be keeping them from.”
“A lot of these kids are not the athletes, the band kids, or they’re not really a part of any specific club – they’re kind of the wanderers and they can be pulled one way or the other,” said Kilmartin. “They’re the exact ones that the Joshua House is for, so they don’t get pulled astray to the wrong things. Hopefully, we can be here to guide them in the right direction.”
The Joshua House puts all of its efforts into providing the best opportunities for these Tyrone youth who find the facility’s atmosphere as a safe haven. Kilmartin said that the after school study hour has been a success so far. Some of the kids’ grades have gone from ‘C’ averages to ‘A’ averages in school, which speaks volumes in regards to what direction the kids are heading into.
Kilmartin stated, “The majority of the kids who come here are middle school kids from sixth grade to tenth grade. At those ages, everything’s a little crazy. You’re thinking about sexual stuff because it’s flaring up in their lives, they’re wanting to experiment with things whether it be drugs, sexuality or alcohol, and it’s a good time to try and guide the kids.”
“I can relate to the kids,” said Kilmartin. “I relate to some of them on a way of being a surrogate father or parent, to other’s I’m like a big brother.”
The Joshua House provides a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, as much as it can be for junior high youth. But, there is a lot of energy and much activity in the sense of being laid-back, because the kids choose to be there and it is something positive being provided.
There are some kids who get written off and said to be hopeless, but Kilmartin believes that there is hope for everyone, and that’s one of the things he aims to accomplish with the availability of himself and the Joshua House.
With the Joshua House becoming more popular with the youth of Tyrone, one of its aspirations is that they are growing out of the present facility and are diligently looking for a larger facility to move into.
“We’d really like to grow into something larger so that it can hold more,” said Kilmartin. “I think God has given me a little bit more of a larger vision than just one little spot we’re in. I want to be able to host Christian youth events and expand our activities.”
The Joshua House does many interesting activities such as their most recent paint ball adventure, by which they held a car wash to raise money to fund the activity. The youth have gone bowling, they went to a summer youth camp for a week at Russ and Lori Walk’s ‘Quest Haven Lodge,’ they’ve gone white water rafting, along with other activities.
None of those activities or the things provided at the Joshua House are free. Individuals from town and from out of town donate items and money. Last year, they received an anonymous grant that helped them buy new computers. The Joshua House is always welcomed to different donations whether it be food, snacks and drinks, or financially. They are always looking for help to keep the facility up and running.
“It’s real generosity from community people and I commend those people,” said Kilmartin. “One of the things I’m teaching the kids here is to be appreciative when somebody gives you something and say thank you.”
It’s been four years since the Joshua House began, and Kilmartin said that this past year has definitely been the best year thus far. Kilmartin wants his life to be a testimony and he prays that the Joshua House will continue to be a part of it. He does it for the kids and it’s exactly what God’s calling him to do right now.
“The main reason kids come here is because they are accepted for who they are,” said Kilmartin. “I want these kids to know that there’s somebody that loves them. A lot of times your appearance is going to be what is inside, but not always. That’s what I hope to see with these kids.”
“I can’t help those that don’t want to be helped,” said Kilmartin.
If anyone is interested to learn more about the Joshua House or wanting to volunteer his or her time, a website is available at www.joshuahousetyrone.org, or call Jim Kilmartin at 684-2032.