KW Stories -

CIY keepsake from ’87 leads volunteer to thank Andy Hansen —

By Becca Haines

The last summer as president of CIY for Andy Hansen was an emotional one, and pleasant surprises like the one he experienced with Darci Watt Gilreath at a MOVE event were welcome relief.

Gilreath is an adult volunteer with her church who has been coming to CIY events for more than 32 years. She has always wanted to meet the president of the organization that she has loved for so many years, and was excited to hear that Andy would be at the MOVE event she’d be attending. She planned ahead and brought with her a CIY pamphlet from the very first summer event she ever attended in 1987. When she showed it to Andy, she wasn’t quite prepared for his response.

 

“I approached Andy and as he looked at the pamphlet, a big smile stretched across his face,” Gilreath said. “It turns out he directed that week!”

 

Andy said he remembers the summer of ’87 well. The theme for that summer conference was “His Image,” and it was Andy’s second year to lead events with CIY.

 

As countless former students do, Darci thanked Andy for his years of service to the ministry, and they took a picture together. He said this summer is a special moment in time for him as he will transition out of his role as president in September and into a role in the development department. After his 15 years as president – and 34 years with CIY – he said he’s always thrilled to meet former students like Gilreath.

 

“It was such a pleasant surprise to meet her, and together we figured out that I was directing the event where she had her first experience with CIY,” Andy said. “Her children now come as students, and she still attends as a sponsor – what a delightful thing to think of the legacy and the history that had taken place in that time. We had a great time talking, and I loved seeing her excitement and joy in the 1,500 young people in Cleveland that week. It’s one of my greatest joys to hear stories from former students – stories of life change that has taken place. It’s happening now, and with God’s grace it will continue in the future.”

 

Gilreath has seen a lot of technical enhancements to the MOVE event over the years, but she said they haven’t changed the original atmosphere in which students grow closer together and hear God’s call to be Kingdom workers. She attended the summer conference from 1987-1991 as a high school student, then again as a volunteer after she graduated.

 

“I was hooked on CIY from the first moment because of the music, the classes and the disciple groups – where we met other teens from other churches,” she said. “My favorite part of the conference was always ‘His Time’ which is now called ‘Encounter Time,’ when students spread out and have quiet time in prayer and read the Bible. I’ll never forget the first time I saw everyone leaving the chapel area – so silent – on their way to experience that. It was moving to see hundreds of teens worshipping and praising Him.”

 

Gilreath was able to return to MOVE in 2014 as a youth coach, and two years later she watched her son experience his first conference. On top of the nostalgia from yesteryears, Gilreath said she’s fallen in love with CIY all over again as a volunteer.

 

“I advocate for our students to go to CIY because it was so impactful in my life as a teen,” she said. “I didn’t expect the experience as a coach to have the impact that has on me. The students open up about their heartaches, let go of a lot of pain and support each other. There have been some unforgettable moments that have made me re-evaluate my relationship with God and my walk with Him. He uses CIY to impact the adults as well – not only as we watch what He does in students’ lives, but in ours too.”