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transforming lives since 1963

Each student who has passes through Lifeline's doors has a unique and compelling opportunity to inspire us all.

Caydin Barton

Middle School Student

"The Lifeline leaders help me out with family or with problems in my life. They help me to stay off the streets and help me get out of

the house."

Bry Pendleton

High School Student

"Lifeline brought me from a bad place and really showed me the right path and how to get there. If it wasn't for Lifeline I'm not sure where I would be. The close staff makes the place feel like family. There's always smiles when you need them and a shoulder to cry on. I come back because of their amazing work with us and I love being a part of something great."

Alisha Kellum

High School Student

"Lifeline helps girls that are quiet feel comfortable and feel like they can open up about anything and you form a bond with girls that will last a long time."
"The Staff Is Like Family to Me"
"I'm Never Alone"

decades of Inspiring Stories


Crystal Garcia-Betts
Retired Elkhart PD

I was born in a family of 12 brothers and sisters. My brothers were involved with a club called Lifeline that let kids have fun, take trips and learn about God. But it was only for boys. So I begged Irv to start a club for girls. In 1978 Irv’s wife Sandy started the first girls club. From there I learned so much about life, character, morals and how much God cares about me.  I started to believe in myself and I knew I could accomplish greater things.  On September 12th of this year, I celebrated 20 years with the Elkhart Police Department as a patrolman and detective. I have tremendous respect for Lifeline and know it was a stepping stone in my life.


Clyde Riley 
Principal Life Schools
(Elkhart Schools)

In 1962 my friends were attending Youth for Christ off Main Street.  They encouraged me to come but there was limited space. But I came anyway and hid behind my friends Robert Taylor, Sam Gary, and Tony Johnson. My life soon changed in a positive way. Irv gave us stability, guidance, and taught us weekly lessons on how to have God first in our lives [and] ate a good meal. Irv gave us the attention and love we needed to feel special. I saw Irv do miracles with these kids. Even after high school and college, Irv stayed in touch with calls and letters. He propelled me to higher levels. I love Irv Polk and Lifeline and what they stand for. His legacy lives on.


Roger Duffy 
Business Owner

After getting in trouble at the age of twelve, it was recommended I

attend Lifeline. There was always

an activity to be involved with and good behavior was the incentive

to go on the trips. One incentive

was learning the Word of God. 

I couldn’t wait for my night to be at club each week to show Irv I had memorized the scripture. Irv made me feel like the most important kid there. Irv soon lead me to Christ. Decades later my son Steven introduced himself to Irv and shared that he was a Christian because of Irv’s investment in his dad.

My name is Todriyana and I’m 17 years old and a Senior at Elkhart Central High School. I have been attending Lifeline since I was in 7th grade and what an adventure it has been.


Growing up, my mom and dad always told me that no matter what happens in life, they were always going to be there for me and my siblings. When I was in second grade, my dad walked out on us. I instantly felt like that promise was broken as I didn’t have my dad to count on when I needed him most in my life...

Todriyana, Past Lifeline Student
and Current Staff Member


Growing up, I seemed to have always experienced situations that weren’t in my control but found them completely controlling my life. My dad passed away when I was one year old so I grew up without a solid father figure in my life. My mom eventually had soon started dating someone who was locked up the majority of the time they were together. 

When I was 3 years old, my sister who is five years older than me, was diagnosed with cancer. We spent the next three years in and out of hospitals while she was going through her treatments. School was irrelevant to me. I never cared. I never tried. I always knew the material and the answers but didn’t care enough to show or express it...  

Braxton, Past Lifeline Student / Mentor

connection matters

kids need

  • Over 80% of juvenile cases originate from the southside of Elkhart.

  • Over 1,200 probation cases originate from the southside of Elkhart.

  • Juvenile violence and crime peak in 3pm-6pm hours.

  • Single family homes make up the vast majority of families with unsupervised youth after the school day ends and during the summer.

kids need

  • Father-deprivation is a more reliable predictor of criminal activity than race, environment or poverty.

  • The vast majority of our students come from single parent or the homes of the guardians / caretakers.

  • Often fatherless, nearly half of African American / Latino / Native American students fail to graduate on time.

facts about kids without fathers or authoritative communities

  • 72% of all teenage murderers

  • 70% of kids incarcerated

  • 60% of rapists

  • 2x’s as likely to quit school

  • 11x’s more likely to be violent

  • 3 of 4 teen suicides

  • 80% of youth in psychiatric hospitals

  • 90% of runaways

  • 71% of pregnant teenagers

  • 85% of youth in prison

  • 90% of youth runaways

impact factors


Attendance. Retention. Confidence. Lasting, life-long relationships.

behavioral change

Poverty. Single mothers.

School drop-out rates.

Crime rates after school. Grades improvement.


Youth health, and fitness. Nutrition and wellness education.

career advancement

Youth mentorship, leadership and coaching. Unemployment.
Workforce readiness.

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