First Fish with the Pros Fundraising Event

October 2000

Pierceton Woods Academy Opened

september 2008

Pierceton Woods Academy Gymnasium Completed

December 2010

First Bike-a-Thon Fundraiser Held

October 1980

Blacklake Lodge Opened


​August 11, 1967
- Land purchased to establish boys’ home on Blacklake in ColumbiaCity, Indiana. Offer was accepted and land purchased by Mr. and Mrs. D.J. Brandenberger. The established home was the “Dean Brandenberger Memorial Home”. This name was changed early on at the suggestion of the Brandenbergers.

January 25, 1968 - Date of Incorporation.Originally incorporated as “Dean Brandenberger Memorial Home”

November 9, 1968 - Naming of the Corporation and Group Home. The corporation was named “Fort Wayne Area Lifeline Homes” and the group home was named “Blacklake Lodge.”

May 1969 - First full-time administrator employed. Bill Jerauld was the agency’s first Administrator.

June 1969 - First set of houseparents hired. Ron & Tina Golbek were the first houseparents for Lifeline.

August 1969 - State approves license for group home operation. 

October 1969 - Blacklake Lodge North opened.

Fall 1970 - Blacklake Lodge “shop building” constructed.

​December 1970 - First counselor hired to work with the residents for five hours per week. Norm Conklin served in this position.

August 1972 - Basketball court added to Blacklake property.

1973 - Became member of Indiana Association of Child Caring Agencies (IARCCA).

January 1973 - First secretary hired for up to 18 hours per week of administrative support. A used typewriter was purchased for Lifeline’s office in September—costing approximately $150.

May 1974 - Development Committee established to research the feasibility of building a second home on the property to accommodate more boys. Darrel Schierling served as the chairman of this committee.

​July 1975 - Construction begins on second group home at Blacklake Lodge.

Fall 1975 - Became an affiliate of Youth for Christ International – Group Home Division.

Summer 1976 - Blacklake Lodge South opened.

February 28, 1977 - First full-time Case Manager / Counselor hired. Jeff Studebaker fulfilled this role.

Early 1977 (Somewhere between February 15th and March 9th) - Fire at Blacklake Lodge South resulting in $30,000 damage.

Summer 1977 - Summer bicycle program begins.

October 1980 - Lifeline becomes licensed to operate as a Foster Care Placement agency.This program was designed for placement of boys that needed a home after completing the Blacklake Lodge program.

October 11, 1980 - First Bike-a-thon fundraiser is held. Funds raised were to be used for the purchase of a pick-up truck.

January 1983 - First Development Director hired. Dennis Helvey accepted this role.

January 1985 - Independent Living Program began with the opening of Spencer Home. The home was purchased in August of 1983 and was located at 10456 Parent Road, in New Haven.

September 26, 1986 - Office relocated to 206 ½ East Jefferson Boulevard.

1987 - Project Incentive prevention program was established at Brookmill Court Apartments.

September 1990 - Office relocated to 3235 South Calhoun Street.

September 1992 - Supervised Emancipation Program, known as “Phase III” was initiated with young men in scattered-site apartments.

​1993 - Short-term Intensive Care (STIC) program developed.

January 1995 - Lifeline’s "Continuum of Care" established.

March 1995 - Aftercare services began with Responsible Thinking classes. Originally known as “Adolescent Attitude Adjustment”, led by Jeff Studebaker and Wyatt Mullinax. The material was based on the 10 Thinking Errors identified by Dr. Stanton Samenow.

1995 - Blacklake Alternative School established.

November 1, 1995 - Outcome Measures were implemented to track success.The first study was from November 1, 1995 through October 31, 1996. Resident success was evaluated using the timing of release, where they were released to, and the results of their treatment plan.

​March 1996 to December 1999 - Lifeline Counseling Center. The program offered psychological assessments at the request of Allen County Division of Family & Children, in addition to some individual counseling services by private referral.

May 11, 1996 - Spencer Home relocated to 3619 Harris Road. Residents moved in on this date.

June 1996 - Moved to 2211 South Calhoun Street.

September 12, 1996 - Name changed from “Fort Wayne Area Lifeline Homes” to “Lifeline Youth & Family Services”.The board approved the name change in August, but it was not made official until the State approved in September.

February 1997 - Lifeline began using a therapeutic model which includes the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings behind behaviors.The entire therapeutic model of treatment included not only the five areas of development (social, mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional), but also the concept that in order to address behavior problems (and the resulting consequences), we must go back to the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs that lead to specific behaviors.

​October 3, 1997 - First fundraising auction held. Lifeline’s first fundraising auction was held at Fellowship Missionary Church and raised about $6,000.

March 1998 - "Core Competencies" Written. A compilation of the specific strategies, activities and methods of treatment that make Lifeline unique.Phase II was added to the Independent Living Program.

May 1998 - The first Phase II resident entered the program in May.

November 9, 1998 - A full-time marketing / intake director was added to the staff. Deb Johnson became Lifeline’s first full-time marketer, developing relationships with county offices and referrals sources as we grew into a competitive organization.

​March 1999 - Development Department created. In addition to the Development Director, a Special Events Coordinator was added to begin creating a “team” to accomplish the organization’s development goals for the year.

​September 1999 - Responsible Thinking program named the "Center for Responsible Thinking". While contracted groups are a part of Lifeline, a unique identity was needed to present the programs to schools, probation departments, etc.

July 1, 2000 - Merger with New Frontiers.

July 1, 2000 - Home Based Services Began.With the merger, Lifeline was able to offer home-based services for the first time.September 2000 - Organizational structure changed to a “business” model. Lifeline moved to an officer format with the addition of CFO and COO positions, reporting to the CEO (formerly Executive Director).

​October 2000 - Fish With the Pros fundraising event began. Included 7 guests and 3 staff who spent the weekend at Doug McComb’s lake cottage in Northern Michigan.

January 10, 2001 - 209 Acres of the Byrer Manor property were sold at auction.10 tracks of land were sold to 6 individuals for a total of $512,103. Proceeds were used to renovate current facilities including Riverwood Ranch and Byrer Manor.

March 2001 - Two chalet homes built at “Blacklake Ridge” to provide housing benefits houseparents and / or teaching staff. One of the homes was named the Keiser Home, due to the generous support of Dale and Betty Keiser.

Spring 2001 - Invited to participate in the Institute for Organizational Effectiveness. The IOE was officially established July 1, 2001 (per Taylor University) however, Lifeline had been invited to participate earlier in the year. This program is a partnership between Taylor University and the Foellinger Foundation, designed to help Allen County nonprofits become more efficient and effective.

December 1, 2001 - Byrer Manor’s Sex Offender Program opened.

​September 2002 - First Warsaw fundraising auction was held.

September 2002 - Leadership Team began working through the principles of Good to Great by Jim Collins.

October 7, 2002 - Freeway Accreditation of Blacklake Alternative School.

August 2003 - Invited to testify at congressional hearings on faith-based organizations. Congressman Mark Souder invited Mark Terrell to speak on Faith-based Perspectives on the Provision of Community Services at a field hearing in Chicago, Illinois.

​Early 2004 - Building Blocks Preschool opened.

February 4, 2005 - Land purchased in Pierceton for Campus Plan.

September 1, 2008 - Pierceton Woods Academy opened.

​September 2010 - Pierceton Woods Academy gymnasium completed.

September 2013 - Pierceton Woods Vocational Center/Woodshop completed.

December 2015 - New corporate office completed.

May 2016 - Chapel Dedication at Pierceton Woods Academy. 

History of Administrators

Bill Jerauld, May 1969 – June 1971
Doug Selfe, July 1971 – August 1976
Verlin Rice, August 1976  (interim)
William Hartman, September 1976 – September 1977
Verlin Rice, October 1977 –  August 1994
​Mark Terrell, August 1994 – Present

our history