“Steal, Kill and Destroy,” is hardly a likely title for a youth outreach organization, but it’s been a successful Christian ministry in Tyler for the last six years.
“It sounds scary, doesn’t it?” said founder Estella Malone, with a smile. “It’s based on John 10:10, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ The idea is to raise awareness to what the enemy is doing to a generation. (The name of the group) makes people ask questions.”
The group of teenagers had been meeting at Starbucks for the last six years, but now the organization is moving to a new office and will hold an open house event at the end of June.
Ms. Malone founded the group out of a passion for teens in danger of addiction to substances or self-harm, because she was one.
“On the first of June six years ago I spent a week and a half in a mental hospital,” she said. “God met me there. When I got out I was so burdened for kids just like me.”
Word spread about meetings through social media, and an average of 25 teens show up regularly.
It’s not a Bible study, she said, although there is often discussion about spirituality.
“Kids want somewhere to belong,” she said. “Just hanging out is saving lives.”
The nonprofit will pay for the office space with donations. Last year’s budget was $30,000, $20,000 of which went to outreach, Ms. Malone said.
Ms. Malone hopes to use the new building for after-school programs to encourage the youth to tap into their artistic abilities. The group also has volunteers with mental health training who meet with some of the teens one-on-one.
The building was in need of renovations when the group decided to use it. A local interior designer, Stephanie Vasso, decided to offer her assistance to the nonprofit for free.
“I was thinking about the verse in Matthew that says ‘Use your old and new treasure to help others,’” she said. “I did drugs in middle school and high school. That was something I had buried. Then (Ms. Malone) got up to speak at my church and I thought ‘Oh Gosh!’ This is what God wants to use me for. … When I called her she was looking at design ideas on Pinterest.”
The teens and Ms. Malone are excited about the possibilities of the new space, but know that’s not the most important thing.
“A few weeks ago I was feeling really discouraged about the building,” Ms. Malone said. “Then one of my kids said ‘We could be sitting in dirt and we’re happy just to be together.”
For more information about SKAD or to volunteer, call 903-707-2210.