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Group hopes to make a difference in lives of young people

Rebecca Burk Ellis / L’Observateur / July 13, 1998

LAPLACE – Members of the newly-formed ministry Generation Xtreme already have big plans, and they’ve only had their third meeting.

They’ve discussed getting T-shirts with their logo on them and handing out bumper stickers at local grocery stores.

They’ve talked about a column members plan to take turns writing in the L’Observateur called Straight Talk from Straight Kids.

They even reached higher and brought up the possibility of asking the postal service for permission to design their own postage stamps.

But before these things were discussed, members opened their third meeting with announcements, followed by a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Generation Xtreme is a group of 15 young people ages 2 to 15, and they all have one thing in common. Harold Keller is their grandfather.Club members are Geoffrey Michel, president; Kerri Serven and Brittany Watson, vice presidents; Monique Michel, secretary; Amber Keller, Mattie Keller and Brandi Serven, treasurers; David Serven, Lauren Michel, Elise Michel, Amanda Watson, Tiffani Serven and Kane Keller, promotion committee members; and 3-year-old Victoria Michel and 2-year-old Kameron Keller.

Harold Keller’s ministry, Get High on Life, began in 1980 and reaches out to those who abuse substances or just need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.

Members of Generation Xtreme hope their ministry will do something of the same, but for a younger age group. They want to encourage youngpeople to abstain from pre-marital sex, drugs and alcohol.

“I hope it challenges teen-agers to be drug-free because that’s the way to be,” Geoffrey Michel said.

Their mission statement is: “Today’s society has almost written off the next generation as Generation X, the lost generation. We, the members ofGeneration Xtreme, realize that our lives are only as important as the Godly, positive impact we make on the lives of others. With that in mind,we commit ourselves to challenge and encourage our generation to make an extreme difference in the world around them.”Besides voting on a mission statement, they also chose a slogan and even followed parliamentary procedure with the help of Keller.

Their slogan is “Youth Making and Xtreme Difference.”After the vote, Keller encouraged his grandchildren. “The missionstatement is strong, but let’s not make a joke of it,” he said. “I want it tobe sincere in your lives. If you can’t follow it and you need to get out, it’sOK.”But no one budged and everyone looked like they were ready to face up to the responsibility of becoming Christian role models to their friends.

To get the club started, Keller suggested that each of the 15 members buy stock. There are 1,500 shares total, and each member was allowed to buy100 shares at 10 cents a piece. They collected the full $150 and raisedsome more money over the Fourth of July weekend when they passed out bumper stickers for donations in front of Winn-Dixie in LaPlace.

“When we got there, we had a good time,” Mattie Keller said. “The Lordwas with us. From our donations we got $218.”They plan to do this again at least twice in front of the Winn-Dixie stores in Destrehan and Lutcher.

This first bundle of money will probably be used to get T-shirts or bumper stickers, and later, when more money is raised, they even threw around the idea of getting bookcovers, bookmarks and calendars.

“The T-shirts will be a way to get the message out,” Amber Keller, 15, said.

“And if you don’t send a positive message you are defeating the purpose,” Harold Keller replied.

Members agreed and said they look forward to rising to the challenge. “I’mexcited about it,” Amber Keller said. “I think it’s good that we are doingit. It’s something positive to exert our energy into, even though it is smallnow, I think it will make a difference.”Keller doesn’t exactly know how far the group will go, but he sees members possibly going to schools and speaking to their peers. “It’sstraight talk from straight kids,” he said. “They have an awesomeresponsibility.”Get High on Life is growing more and more every day by the lives Keller has touched. Just recently a fund-raiser banquet was held and theorganization raised over $22,000.

Geoffrey Michel, 13, has a vision for his group.

“Hopefully it will grow to where anybody who wants to be in it can be,” he said. “Hopefully one day we will go to Washington, but now we just wantto reach out to the community.”And members of Generation Xtreme can’t go wrong with a “pawpaw” like Keller supporting them.

“He’s got a good heart and always reaches out to people no matter what time it is,” Michel said. “He doesn’t care what people think of him eventhough he can be a little crazy sometimes. He has a good heart, though.”

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