By Madelynn Vallejo, Talon Staff Reporter
Hood River Valley is known as a small, tight-knit community, filled with incredible people waiting to tell their stories. In the summer, a crowd of wind-surfers, tourists, kite-boarders fill up our streets. In the winter, snowboarders, snowshoers, and snow enthusiasts add to our population. With seasons turning, and a constant flow of people coming and going, it’s nice to know there’s one person whose heart remains in Hood River. Her name? Tina Graves.
As the head youth pastor at Hood River Alliance Tina’s mission is to serve the youth in our community. This is her fifth year in doing so in this position, but Tina is no stranger to anyone. Before being employed by Hood River Alliance, Tina was a math teacher at Hood River Valley High School, as well as a math professor at Columbia Gorge Community College. She oversees both High School and Middle School youth group, as well as serving on the Alliance board.
Monday’s include tutoring, youth group, and church meetings. Tuesday is reserved for Celebrate Recovery, a program Tina is involved in. Wednesday’s are full of smiles and desserts specially made for middle school youth group. Thursday’s host Women’s Bible Study. It’s just another week for Tina Graves. “I want to make disciples, and invite people to follow me, as I follow Jesus. My job allows me to do that. They call me a full-time Christian” Tina said.
Mykan Malone, a senior at HRVHS, first met Tina through a recommendation from a friend. “The first time I went to youth group, Tina made me feel so loved. She made me a great tasting coffee, and sat down with me so we could get to know each other. Other youth groups that I’ve gone to don’t even ask you your name!” This isn’t just a one time experience either. Nohea Bailey, a member of Hood River Alliance holds true to that claim. “Tina has been a positive role model in my life, and she really cares about all of us that come here. She probably knows your cousins, your best friends, and the name of your grandparent’s dog, she’s that involved in our community.”
Many have walked through those glass doors into the cafe at Hood River Alliance, and all can say that Tina Graves has made a difference in their lives. Even as people come and go in our community, Hood River can always count on Tina.