#MyYLStory: Dave DeRoos

Dave DeRoos: What do you get when you combine a Young Life Alumnus, Rotary International and an opportunity to serve? Changed lives in Nepal!

In 1972, Dave DeRoos was a senior at Washington High School in Fremont, California. At the same time, a recent graduate of Stanford University, Cliff Davidson, had crossed the San Francisco Bay from Palo Alto and was beginning his Young Life staff career. Dave joined Cliff’s very first Campaigners group; an experience that was, according to Dave, “instrumental at that time of my life.” Forty-two years later, that “experience” continues to be instrumental not only in the lives of Dave and Cliff, but in countless others throughout the world.

Following high school, Dave attended the University of California — Davis, where he served Young Life as a volunteer leader and team leader at Woodland High School, and served on summer staff at Young Life’s Frontier Ranch. After graduating from college, Dave has stayed connected to Young Life and has woven together an impressive list of places and ways that he has served the mission. Currently, he serves on the committees for Downtown Sacramento, Northern California/Hawaii, and Young Life Asia Pacific, alongside his Young Life leader, Cliff Davidson! Dave wants to stay involved with the Young Life mission because, “It is both exciting and inspirational to be a part of a ministry that helps the adults of tomorrow find new life through the person of Jesus Christ and trains them up in the way they should go, including how to be leaders to the next generation after them!”

Along with being a Young Life alumnus, Dave is a Rotarian. Rotary is an international service club consisting of corporate leaders, non-profit executives, judges, elected officials and business owners. With 33,000 clubs and 1.2 million members, Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self,” which has recently been put into action via an opportunity that Dave presented to his local Sacramento Rotary Club.

As a member of the Young Life Asia Pacific committee, Dave was asked to adopt a country in that part of the world. Dave selected Nepal and embarked two years ago on his first trip to see Young Life’s work there. During this visit, Dave’s eyes (and heart) were caught by Young Life’s English program teaching students in the lowest of the country’s four castes. In Dave’s words, “Learning English is very critical in Nepal because the economy in that country is very marginal, except for tourism. So, if you want a job, you will find it in the tourist-driven enterprises. And for these jobs, you must speak English.”

Knowing that one of Rotary International’s six goals is “Literacy,” Dave shared that Young Life Nepal was providing English Literacy training. In response, the Sacramento Rotary allocated $5,000 to help Young Life Nepal develop and expand their English literacy work, but that was just the beginning. Last year, Dave returned to Nepal with a group of 13, half of whom were Rotarians from his local club. (Watch the video of this amazing trip to Nepal!) Today, Dave’s passion for both Young Life and Rotary, as well as the goals for the Asia Pacific Literacy Program, continues to grow. His hope is that other Young Life Alumni, who are also Rotarians, will want to involve their Rotary Clubs in this significant multi-country English literacy project in Asia.

Isn’t it amazing what God can do with a 42-year-old friendship, a love of Young Life and Rotary, and willing hearts? To think that kids in Nepal today are experiencing the love of God as they learn English because of a God-ordained encounter in Fremont, California, four decades ago is truly incredible. When asked if he might have an encouragement for other alumni and friends of Young Life, Dave stated, “I can’t think of a more rewarding, joyful, and humbling opportunity to serve individuals, communities, and countries than to take an active role in engaging and supporting Young Life and moving it forward. … When kids have their eyes opened to seeing the best life that can be lived, you can bet that you are riding on the right train.”