20 Years of Growth

Clint Plattner Profile
Article by Clint Plattner
Residential Program Manager

As I reflect on this past year, I am amazed at how many awesome things God has done here at Gateway Woods.

While I attributed this truth to the youth we were serving, over time, I learned it applies to everyone, including myself.

It feels very surreal to realize how much life I have spent at Gateway Woods as I wrap up my employment. I remember one of my first Sundays at Leo Church, a former houseparent told me, "20 years ago, we moved to Leo for 2 years". It seemed crazy then… and now it feels equally as crazy to be able to relate to that comment.

As I reflect back, a few things come to mind. First, I learned early on that to love at all is to be vulnerable. Connecting with others creates the possibility of joy and comfort, but also heartache and pain. Thankfully, we (my wife and I) gave ourselves to the mission and did our best to love and connect. It’s very humbling when I consider all the great relationships we formed over this span of time. I’m also thankful that those relationships can continue beyond the boundary of where we work.

The other reality that washes over me as I reflect back is how my vantage point has changed over time. Although unconscious, I came to Gateway with a sort of “jug and mug” mentality in which I would attempt to pour from my “jug of knowledge” into a young person’s "mug". Through those attempts, I quickly realized another truth called universal brokenness which says, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but I know something is wrong with you." While I attributed this truth to the youth we were serving, over time, I learned it applies to everyone, including myself.

Our first role was houseparenting and it brought me face-to-face with parts of myself that I would’ve been fine not ever meeting. And yet, this became what I would come to value most about being part of this mission: growth. I began to see that we are all on this path of maturity. Granted, I’m further down the road of life than others and therefore have something to offer, but the reality is we are all on this journey, just in different stages. This helped me not look at others in judgment, but rather see myself in kinship with them. We all need redemption and we all are in a process of growth. God have mercy when we get this wrong.

While it will be a difficult change to not be as connected to what has become like family to me, I now leave with lots of warm memories. I also leave with lots of difficult ones, but mostly I leave with a sense of gratitude to have been a part of a place where I could grow and live out what God had placed within me.

Clint served as the Residential Program Manager at Gateway Woods. Clint has also worked as a Houseparent, Foster Care Case Manager and a Home Based Worker.