In the late 90s, youth pastors in Anchorage began talking about a coffee shop where teens could hang out and experience the love of Jesus. It was an idea that continued to be discussed over the years.
One of those conversations was held outside the Anchorage Youth for Christ (AYFC) office. As staff members stood at the 4th floor balcony in the Dimond Center Mall, they watched teens daily wandering the mall, aimless and alone. Those teens needed a "Cheers" - a place where they could go, where someone would know their name. A place where relationships could be built and lives shared. A place like the Cheers bar on TV.
In the fall of 2002, the Dimond Center Mall agreed to allow AYFC to put a teen center within its walls. In April 2003, Parachutes opened its doors to teens for the first time. Over the summer word spread throughout the teen community and by fall the popularity of Parachutes soared with Friday night crowds pushing 300 teens.
In 2005, AYFC experienced financial difficulties and had to make drastic cuts. Due to its popularity and health, Parachutes remained. As the Board of Directors discussed options, it became clear that it was time for Parachutes to gain its independence from Youth for Christ. In April of 2006, the process was complete and Parachutes Ministries, Inc was born.
After eleven years, due to changes in the mall, Parachutes left the Dimond Center. Over the next year and a half, ministry continued without a physical space while Parachutes sought out and renovated a new drop-in center.
In September 2015, we re-opened at 5520 Lake Otis Parkway, Suite 102, in a newly renovated space, once again welcoming teens through our doors.
Throughout Parachutes' history we have continued to hold strong to the vision it started with: Through relationships, Parachutes demonstrates the unconditional love of Jesus to teenagers by seeking to minister to their physical, social and spiritual needs.
Each teen has a story and in a real way forms the history of Parachutes - much of which will never be written down and most of which is still waiting to unfold in the future. We are excited to see how God might use Parachutes' space to fulfill our prayers - "your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."