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Our Team

Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, our skilled team of professionals is the backbone of Life Decisions. Their ideas help shape the direction and mission of our organization as it continues to develop. Read on to learn more about some of our incredible team members.

Chief Visionary Officer

JAKE ROGERS

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It began as a dream. For the past three years, I have been a Juvenile Justice Ministry (JJM) Director, working with youth inside, and out, of our local Juvenile Detention Center. I've become increasingly burdened by the number of youth, who were highly motivated to change, yet continued to return to lockup in just a few weeks or months of their release. The level of care they need to sustain lasting change simply is not available to them in our county.

Recently, by God’s divine providence, I began to sense my call to launch Life Decisions, focusing on providing that higher level of care, while working alongside existing likeminded ministries. The vision has been refined and influenced by experts in the field of Juvenile Justice, my previous observations and experiences working as a County Detention Officer, Recovery Home Specialist, and the last three years with YFC as a JJM mentor, Director, and the development of the Next-Steps Aftercare Site.  Most important of all has been the direct input from the young people I've had the privilege of getting to know, particularly Jadarius, who began co-launching Life Decisions with me in October of 2020.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20)

Founding Mentee

JADARIUS HARDY

JADARIUS HARDY

Hey, I’m Jadarius. I grew up not having the best of life.  Eventually, something broke inside of me. I stopped caring; I stopped being kind & I respected no one. This led to violence. When I was just 15 years old I served eight hard months in the JDC (Juvenile Detention Center). This is where I met Jake.

 

My life has changed drastically. Today, I have hope & my faith is growing. I went from doing drugs to doing stuff I never thought of- like visiting Colorado to see a group helping kids, like I was, to meet their God-given potential.

 

I feel my life, my story, and everything I’ve been through is pushing me to help others. I want to help those who are in the same predicament as I was to give them the help & hope to change and better their lives.

Education Project Coordinator

CANDICE ROKUSEK

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Graduated from Regent University in 2020 with a Masters in Education and became a professionally certified Educational Therapist with the National Institute of Learning Development (NILD)

Prior to working at Life Decisions I worked at Lydia Learning Academy for three years as an Educational Therapist and Reading Teacher.  I was really excited to learn about Life Decisions and the educational aspect of the program because like Lydia it combines two of my passions, teaching and mentoring at risk or undervalued youth. 

My dream for this tribe of mentors is that they too realize that God has a plan for them, that they have hope, they thrive in the future and in turn their is a ripple effect as they become mentors themselves and as this tribe continues to grow we not only transform Rockford but many, many lives of youth who felt lost but through Life Decisions’ relationships and Jesus they are found. 

Assistant Project Coordinator

RAHEEM SWIFT

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Hello, I’m Raheem Swift like most youth in the community of Rockford. I had a lot of things in my life that were at risk. Dealing with most problems young people deal with all the time I eventually had a chance to transform myself. I joined Life Decisions in 2021 helping them with some of their early serving projects and from those times on I just kept coming around and helping them with the many things

they needed help with.

 

I also started to go to church with the tribe as well. It was a good experience to be in a church for the first time other than to go to funerals. I love the church and I am even a cameraman and camera director there and I'm proud of myself for it.  I just finished a 3 month internship with Workforce Connections reverse referral from Life Decisions and now I’m on the job full time. I guess I am one of the youth with a great success story.

 

My dream for the tribe is that there will be youth with changed lives other than youth with no hope or desires to have a great life at all. I dream of a better future for

all youth everywhere. 

Day Home Specialist

LAUREN SPEARS

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I started in early 2022 as an Intern from Judson University! As a mom of three, as well as a previous at-risk youth, I would like to help youth in whatever way that can help to get them on the right path! It is my wish to make a lasting impact! My dream for our tribe here at Life Decisions is that we can continue to grow and reach more youth, and make a meaningful difference in the Rockford community!

Chief Development Officer

ALI ROGERS

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After spending 10+ years serving in student ministry within the church, I remember having an honest conversation with God about feeling like a fish out of water. I was not a ‘church’ kid growing up and it wasn’t until I started serving at-risk teens in 2014, when I was overcome with the feeling, “This is home.”

 

My heart is burdened for the young person that has lost all hope because I have been there.

I used to dream of being a world-changer; making a big difference in a mighty way, until I realized that the most profound way to change the world is one life at a time; free one prisoner from darkness, and their entire world is flooded with light. If I can help just one person know Jesus through a consistent lifelong friendship, I will have made a difference.

 My life has been forever changed by seeing firsthand the gospel lived out in mentoring relationships and one of my favorite things to witness, as a mom, is when the youth that I am working with, take my own two daughters under their wings and share Christ's love with them, also. My dream for this tribe of mentors is to see lives changed in our community; people who used to  feel lost and alone, now seen, known, loved and purpose-filled.

Office Manager

XAN JARL

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Hi, my name is Xandra. My friends and family call me Xan.  I started volunteering with Life Decisions since we began and I love it! 

Watching the growth within our youth-learning new trades, seeing daily personal growth and development to becoming a healthy independent adult has been a wonderful experience. Working with youth as a mentor has brought a new purpose to my life.  To see the pride that they find in themselves is so rewarding. It only made sense that I joined the team in a staff role as The Office Manager. Now I am spending even more time at the Day Home with youth and it has been true joy.

My dream for this Tribe of Mentors is to see the Tribe impact the lives of others, to help restore Rockford into a safe and positive growth community. 

Project Coordinator

AUDRA FREEZE

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My name is Audra Freeze! Before coming to Life Decisions, I have worked in all levels of education both public and private institutions. I have volunteered with Ali for many years. I have a heart for helping youth find their God-given life purpose while encouraging them to reach healthy adulthood.
 
My dream is that this organization would facilitate mentoring relationships where both mentor and mentee find and fulfill their God-given life purposes all while serving the Rockford and surrounding communities.

Assistant Project Coordinator

AMAYA CASTANON

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Hi, My name is Amaya and I am 22. I have served on the Youth Leadership Council. Prior to that, Ali was my mentor and introduced me to Life Decisions back when it was just an idea on paper and now I have had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to it and see it coming to fruition. 

My dream for this tribe of mentors is to build a better and stronger community. To empower youth minorities to help them find their voice and power now, So later they can lead Rockford.

Day Home Specialist

KELVIN JANNEH

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Mentoring is very important in someone's life because when the mentee finds themselves struggling to perform their job or reach a goal, they can turn to their mentor for support. This encouragement can motivate them to keep moving forward despite challenges. And a mentor can also identify and express their mentee's strengths to instill confidence in them. Having a strong sense of confidence can make the mentee less likely to give up on their goals.

I'm very passionate about helping others, 
This has been my overall passion. 

My dream and prayer for this Tribe of Mentors, is to Support the youth in their life decisions, dreams, goals, visions and methods.

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