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Young Life director brings strong work ethic
"Monda Holsinger's parents didn't brook slacking off.After all, their 260-acre ranch required constant work. By the time she was 6, Holsinger was delivering piglets, swabbing their newborn faces with rags before gently laying them under a heat lamp.Every summer, she helped kill the chickens that would feed her family for the coming year. Holding them by the feet, she'd set their heads on the chopping block and cut off their heads with one sure fall of the ax. Like delivering the pigs, killing chickens was just another expectation.If she was riding her draft horse, Smokey, and saw one of the Millionaire Dollar Ranch's 2,000 head of cattle giving birth in a field, she didn't run back to the house for help - You took care of it.She favored some chores - delivering the baby pigs - over monotonous tasks like picking strawberries and removing rocks from a field so they wouldn't ruin the tractor's teeth. But she learned to do them all without complaint.Her childhood in Springdale, Wash., gave her more than a solid work ethic, Holsinger says.Accountability, responsibility, faithfulness. You had to be faithful to others, she said. If piglets died, it had consequences. It cost the family money. There were consequences if I didn't pick the strawberries. Cause and effect.As an adult, Holsinger hopes to inspire new generations of kids to strive to be responsible, accountable for their actions and faithful, in this case to God. The 44-year-old Federal Way resident took over as the new area director of Young Life of Auburn/Federal Way in mid-September.The local branch is affiliated with the National Young Life program, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Founded in 1940, the Christian ministry reaches out to kids in junior high and high school who might not have other means of developing a relationship with God or talking with affirming adults.Just as her parents taught her to approach hard work with enthusiasm, Holsinger wants to teach Young Life members at seven Auburn and Federal Way schools how to achieve more in their lives and to seek healthy ways to have fun. Along with hard work, her childhood offered her awesome freedom, namely riding her horse on the hills around her home and fishing in a creek that wound through the property. By acquiring increased respect for responsibility through Young Life, teen-ager members also gain a freedom, Holsinger says.I love the fact I may be able to offer a junior high or high school kid a way to look at life in a different way than drugs and alcohol and sex, she said. ...I think we can change the course of their life and help them begin to think about their decisions.Holsinger grew up around kids for whom hard work was a way of life. The parents of the majority of teen-agers in Springdale were ranchers or farmers. About 300 students attended the K-12 school about 10 miles from her home. The smell of alfalfa and cattle and milk permeated their skin.Once I delivered pigs in my cheerleader uniform, she said, laughing. I sprayed perfume on myself and went to school. The other kids didn't notice. They were from dairies.She says she never considered delivering pigs out of the ordinary.It was a responsibility. I needed to do it, she said. It wasn't an option whether I liked it or not. I never thought, 'Poor me.' It's part of what you did.Her work ethic applied to school, where A's and B's dominated her report cards. Her attitude: There's no room for her excuses. It also applied to parenting after marrying years later.She approached life as a stay-at-home mom raising two boys with the same intensity she'd shown at home and at school. She and her sons created huge forts out of sleeping bags, blankets and card table. They'd swing at a nearby park.We'd play, play, play, she said. She was a stay-at-home mom for a few years before taking jobs, including that of a condo rental agent, she could do and still get home before her children came home from school. She started working for the schools, including as a career counselor at Thomas Jefferson High School and manager of the AmeriCorps program in Federal Way Public Schools.Holsinger is probably best known locally for her job as the dean of students at Thomas Jefferson from 1996 to 1999. There, she developed a deep appreciation for teen-agers and the challenges they face, and displayed an infectious enthusiasm.Holsinger's hair is bleached blond, her fingernails are frosted and her gaze is unwavering when she wants to get her point across. She refers to herself frequently as goofy, and grins often as she recalls her childhood.When intent on conveying a point, Holsinger's leans forward and her blue eyes focus entirely on the person she's talking with. But teen-agers never fail to divert her attention. She greets three Thomas Jefferson troublemakers as brightly as she does a good student she encounters minutes later.The boys nod a greeting. In the parking lot, the girl's eyes light up with delight as she spots the former dean of students.You have a great daughter, Holsinger tells the girl's mother. She's No. 1.Holsinger says her new job combines her love for teen-agers and for God. She says she appreciates teen-agers' honesty and goofiness and their willingness to seek truth. Her two sons are no longer teens - Brian is 25 and Aaron is 23. What might surprise people about teen-agers is that they crave discipline, she said.They want to be held accountable. They want it, she said.They would flourish under that if it was consistent.She doesn't believe teen-agers are any worse or better than they were when she was a kid. They simply face more pressures and decisions now, she says. Young Life offers adult volunteers an opportunity to support them.Young Life clubs have formed at Auburn Senior, Auburn Riverside, Thomas Jefferson and Decatur high schools, and Rainier, Olympic and Baker middle schools in Auburn. Holsinger hopes to have clubs in the other three high schools and eight junior highs in Auburn and Federal Way by 2005.Besides meeting regularly on Monday nights to sing, participate in skits and hear a 10- to 12-minute message of the gospel, Young Life members also can attend Campaigners, a weekly Bible study, and a variety of camps.Just as she was as a child, Holsinger says she remains accountable for her actions. With this calling, she's taking on a lot, she says. But this time, instead of answering to her parents, she believes she'll answer to God. I will be held accountable for this call, she said. I haven't gone into it lightly. "