Many nights as a boy, Ian Danley woke up to find a stranger in his room, sometimes in his own bed. His parents, Kit and Wayne, had moved into a primarily Latino, poverty-ridden neighborhood between 19th and Van Buren on the west-central side of downtown Phoenix. They opened their home to kids who were in trouble or had no place to go.
Such surprises were an essential part of his mother's work directing Neighborhood Ministries (NM), a Christian outreach to urban residents, mostly Latinos. The "Barrio Mom" (who topped a CT article titled "100 Things the Church Is Doing Right!") founded NM in 1981.
"That's just how we lived," says Danley, 31, now NM'S youth programs director. "There were young people with us all the time—on the couch, on the floor, in my room, wherever."
Danley is following a path similar to his mother's (still NM'S president), sharing her passion for ministering to Latinos, who compose 41 percent of Phoenix's population. But with a master's degree in public policy, Danley has translated his parents' hands-on ministry into advocacy. A vocal proponent of immigration reform, he ensures that youth at NM learn leadership skills and get the support to graduate from high school and enroll in college. Last summer, teens from NM convinced 500 locals to register to vote; Danley expects similar results this summer.
"I'm a community development youth pastor," says Danley, who works with about 200 teens weekly. "We do traditional youth group stuff—Chubby Bunny, going to camp—but we also organize young people for civic engagement, addressing the challenges of our community. Encouraging their leadership ...1
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