Local couple works hard to support Roaring Fork Valley teens
Post Independent correspondent
Pete and Patty Schaffner are determined to remind the youth in the Roaring Fork Valley that they are not alone.
“I think kids need more personal connections,” Patty said. “All the negative stuff that is going on with teenagers stems from not having that connection and a good feeling about who they are and knowing the value of who they are.”
The Schaffners are best known for their connections with Youth for Christ and YouthZone. Pete first moved to the valley in 1978, followed by Patty in 1980 after they were married.
“I worked in sales and we started volunteering up here with the folks who started Youth For Christ in the area,” Pete said. He has now worked as the director of Youth For Christ for 36 years.
“At Youth For Christ, we’re all about collaboration with local churches,” Pete said.
Aside from helping Pete at YFC, Patty also works at YouthZone as the Pal’s Mentoring Program Coordinator and as a fitness instructor at the Hot Springs Pool.
“I see teenagers as such a huge resource,” Patty said. “They have so much to give and great experiences. So with that, what they can offer a child in mentoring is really special and precious.”
Although Pete and Patty aren’t employees of the Roaring Fork School District, you can find them in a number of different schools, meeting the spiritual needs of the youth community.
“I try to be in the high school once a week at lunch to connect with my teen mentors,” Patty said. “Then I come to the games and activities probably once or twice a week.”
Not only does Pete go to GSHS, but he also visits Glenwood Springs Middle School, Roaring Fork High School and Yampah Mountain High School.
“I’ll be on campus somewhere everyday,” Pete said.
Both Pete and Patty have also been a part of many of the sports teams at GSHS and GSMS, including coaching baseball and football for Pete, and swimming and diving for Patty.
“Pete and I have many things in common, including sports and facial hair,” joked Tyler Dietrich said, a senior at GSHS.
Part of this involvement comes with breakfast and lunch youth groups through Youth For Christ that are put on at different times and places for different groups of kids.
“I used to go to the middle school breakfasts when my sisters were in middle school,” said sophomore Emily Nilsson, the youngest of three children and a weekly regular at Patty’s Christian Girls Lunch. “Pete would always bring pie and he would always save me a piece, even though I wasn’t supposed to have any.”
Each week during the school year, Pete directs eight meals for middle and high schoolers around the valley through Youth For Christ.
“They’re very down to earth,” Dietrich said. “Patty is one of the sweetest ladies out there and Pete, being able to relate to the guys in any way possible, is really nice.”
The Schaffners go beyond just supporting children through sporting events and meals.
“Pete put on a Halloween dance my senior year in ‘83,” said Gayla Rowe, the Vice Principal at GSHS. “Going to the Hotel Colorado, renting the Hotel Colorado, having a dance for us; nobody had done that for us. That was pretty cool.”
Pete and Patty have been working to remind the kids of the valley that they are important for decades and continue their work with the same enthusiasm as when they began.
“I feel like Pete and Patty are a kind of safe haven for students,” Nilsson said. “You know that whatever you tell them, they’ll be praying about it and try and help you through it.”
Although they’ve made it their mission to help the youth of the Roaring Fork Valley, neither Pete nor Patty were born here.
Patty grew up in Castle Rock, Colorado as one of eight children.
“My childhood was so different than kid’s childhoods now,” Patty said. “We had a 30-acre property and we had horses and a creek and we could be gone all day, we just better be home for dinner.”
As an “Air Force brat,” Pete’s childhood was filled moving from place to place with his parents and three siblings.
After high school, both attended Colorado State University where they first met in the training room as college athletes. Patty Schaffner was on the diving and swimming team, while Pete was recruited to play football.
“I get romantic when I smell athletic tape,” Pete said.
The two bonded further over club rugby at CSU.
“I remember she was explaining the rules to me as we drove to the first game,” Pete said. “I loved playing rugby. Football wasn’t that great of an experience, but rugby really was fun.”
The Shaffners were married on Groundhog Day in 1980. They now have two grown children and their daughter has twin boys.
They are determined to serve the children in the valley and guide them on the right path.
“If you love Jesus and he has given you gifts and talents in your life, you use that to serve others, and that ends up bringing you joy,” Patty said. “It’s not done out of duty, it’s a response to Christ.”
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