A Little About the Stillwater Youth Center

The vision for Stillwater Youth Center was birthed out of a mother's prayer to the Lord for her three teenagers in the spring of 1994. I had been seeking the Lord about the importance for my children to have reaffirmation and encouragement, coming from others besides myself and their dad, to follow the Christian principles our family so strongly believed in. We wanted them to be surrounded by fellow Christians who would reinforce the importance of following biblical principles and strong moral values through positive peer pressure.

After much contemplation and seeking the Lord, I felt God leading me to start a non-denominational youth group, a place where youth could come together with their friends -- regardless of denomination -- and come to know Jesus Christ and His ways. In the fall of 1994, our first youth group met with seven or eight students in junior high.

We began by meeting in homes around Columbus, Montana Then, in the midst of sharing our needs with the community and local churches, Bob Grummett came forward and provided us a place to meet in an old jewelry store.

In April of 1995, we became a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation the following November called Stillwater Youth Center, Inc. The Center offers an inviting place for youth to socialize, recreate and study God's word in a supportive Christian atmosphere.

We essentially have a five-part mission at SYC:

1. Our ultimate aim is to call kids to a lifelong love relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. To reach and disciple youth.

3. To actively guide youth to fulfill the Great Commission.

4. To actively encourage youth to attend the church of their choice.

5. To build and enhance relationships between adults and youth.

In the fall of 1995, Bob sold our current meeting place and then provided us with his off-site two-door garage, which became known as BG's (Bob Grummett's).

By 2001, we had grown from our first group of seven or eight youth to an incredible 75-85 youth per week. We had four youth groups and several dedicated volunteers, and continued to see growth over the next two years.

By 2005 we were becoming bigger than the building we congregated in. We were busting at the seams at BG's, at times seeing 40 or more youth in the garage at once, and between 80 to 100 youth were coming in on a weekly basis. Many memories were made in that garage, but we had outgrown the building and believed God would provide us with a new meeting place.

In September of that year, an opportunity to rent the health and recreation building in Columbus arose with the option to buy. The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust granted us $150,000 towards the $250,000 needed to purchase the building on one condition: We would need to raise the other $100,000 in a two-week period. God blessed us through countless individuals, businesses, churches and families and we met our goal of $100,000 in two weeks. On October 10, 2006, we signed the papers that made SYC the owner of the building.

The spaciousness of the new building allows us to offer more to the youth and welcome more youth in. We have a racquetball court with the opportunity for volleyball, basketball, dodge ball and other sports; a game room with pool, foosball, ping pong, video games, and board games; a Ministry-Media room with surround sound that is designated for youth group meetings and movie nights. With this facility we have the ability to do retreats, house lock-in events and more. Our restrooms are equipped with showers to provide all of the necessities of an overnight stay. We also have a kitchen/cafe area and a snack shop.

Most importantly, SYC provides a place where the community's youth can feel safe and loved, no matter what their background, a welcoming atmosphere filled with people of Godly influence. It is more than a place to play and learn -- it's a place where they can grow in their faith and feel closer to Christ.

Today SYC continues to see numerous youth come through the doors. We have one full-time staff member and one part-time staff member. We have more than 15 volunteers, a Board of Directors and associate board members, office volunteers and a prayer team.

Joanie Matovich, Founder & Director of Ministry of Stillwater Youth CenterEdited by Amber Kuehn Krempel, Sports writer for the Helena Independent Record & SYC Alumnus


I began attending SYC when I was a freshman in high school, which can be an incredibly vulnerable time in any teenager's life. Immediately I felt welcome, and I knew it was a "come as you are" atmosphere where I wouldn't have to worry about being judged.

I developed relationships with other believers and began to feel a closeness to God that didn't necessarily hit me at every Sunday church service. It was at this time that I -- someone who hadn"t really read much of the Bible before -- began to dive deeper into studying the Word.

Looking back now, I realize that SYC was building a foundation for my faith that would carry me into the future. Without it I may have never discovered the importance of fellowship with other Christians. It provided a springboard for me to continue attending bible studies and campus worship opportunities during my time in college, and even to this day at 26 years old I am a regular church attendee and have a close-knit group of friends from church -- young couples like my husband and I -- that meet to study the word and pray together on a weekly basis.

Now, with a baby of my own on the way, my husband and I know that faith will be a vital part of our family and I can only hope my son will be able to have a similar type of youth experience that I did. Thanks SYC!

Meet The Staff

Joanie MatovichFounder
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Shawna TjaalandPresident
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Christine FleuryBoard Member
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Robin SmithYouth Director
Becky MatovichBoard Member
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Bonnie SheilsVolunteer
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Stillwater Youth Center is a 501 C (3) non-profit tax exempt Montana corporation which makes contributions tax deductible. All funding is private with no government support; operating costs including the salary of our professional Youth Director are met by donations from individuals, businesses, and churches as well as annual fund raising efforts by the youth.