First, I want to say that I am so humbled, honored, and downright excited for the opportunity to become the next executive director of Oregon Right to Life. In the course of the 17 years I have been on staff, I have taken part in many projects and events that fall outside the traditional political arena. One of my favorites has been to work with student activists in activities ranging from internships to Camp Joshua.
Young Americans are more pro-life than ever, resulting in a generation of young, dedicated, and vibrant pro-life leaders who are working on campuses and in communities every day to end abortion in their lifetime. ORTL is very intentional about welcoming young Oregonians into pro-life activism and, as I look around Oregon and the nation, our efforts — your efforts — are paying off in a big way.
I would like you to meet just a few Oregonians who started out participating in one of our youth programs:
Bethany Janzen attended Camp Joshua seven years ago and has never looked back! She remained active at ORTL serving as a summer intern, leading the Students for Life clubs on two campuses, staffing Camp Joshua, and completing her senior thesis project researching Latinos and abortion in Oregon. It was no surprise to any of us when Bethany announced that she was taking a job as a regional coordinator for Students for Life. She now lives in Colorado and travels all over the Mountain West.
Joseph Speten attended Camp Joshua while a high school student. Since then, he has married and is working full-time in the Salem area. He helps out with his church youth group and worship team and he and his wife are in the process of becoming foster parents.
Nick Comerchero is interning with the ORTL Political Action Committee this semester. He was a past state oratory contestant from Jackson County and is now attending college in Salem. Nick already has excellent communications skills and a great work ethic. He spent considerable time volunteering for the congressional campaign of Colm Willis and is diligently completing his degree.
These are just a few examples of the far-reaching and long-term effects that Camp Joshua, internships, and the Oregon Right to Life Education Foundation Essay, Drawing, and Oratory Contest have in equipping students and encouraging them to use their gifts in the pro-life movement. That may mean full-time or volunteer pro-life work, or living out pro-life values as a foster parent.
All the time and effort that goes into these projects is well worth it because they offer young people the opportunity to become better informed about pro-life issues as well as the skills to argue well when they talk to those who disagree with them. It is richly rewarding to see so many prepared and empowered young people take on the mantle of leadership across the state and the nation.