Jonathan and Cristine are the directors for Royal Family KIDS Camp in Columbus. This camp serves youth, ages 7-11, who have been or currently are in foster care system due to cases of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. The camp is a faith-based camp, so Jonathan and Cristine spend much of the year planning how to teach these children about God’s love as well as how to best create positive memories for these youth.  This year, their camp will celebrate their 11th year and will serve 40 youth from the Columbus DHHS service area.

                The incredible part about this amazing couple is that their passion for children does not stop at camp. Jonathan has served as the YMCA Youth and Family/Camp Director from 2002-2010, which he left to work as the Child Advocate at Center for Survivors, a domestic violence victims’ assistance agency. He soon moved from that position into the Executive Director role with Center for Survivors. After Several years there, he returned to the YMCA to work as a building supervisor as well as assisting in youth programs. In 2016, Jonathan moved into a role with Highland Park Church as the Director of Family Ministries, allowing him to invest more time in Royal Family as well as overseeing childrens’ ministry and Vacation Bible School. As for Cristine, she has served as the kindergarten teacher at Centennial Elementary School for the past 15 years. During that time, she has also worked at the Columbus Family YMCA as the tumbling instructor.

Both Jonathan and Cristine have a long time investment in the Columbus community, because they do not simply see our youth as the future of the community; they see our youth as leaders in their homes and schools right now that will grow into business leaders, community leaders, school and church leaders, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. Through their intentional investment of love and care, these youths have strong roots to grow into amazing individuals. It is for this reason that we would like to nominate Jonathan and Cristine Niles for the Gene Haynes Award. 

Congratulations to our 2018 GENE HAYNES SERVICE TO YOUTH AWARD winners Jonathan and Cristine Niles! This award is a testament to their selfless personal and professional service to the youth in their Columbus, NE community. They have received this year’s award for exhibiting the highest degree of commitment in serving and shaping our future leaders. 
Though they were not able to attend our Diamonds in the Rough Fundraiser at the River City Star this year, their award was accepted by Adam Schaer (previous Gene Haynes Award winner) on their behalf. Additionally, Adam was able to present our GENE HAYNES AWARD to Jonathan and Cristine at the very camp that was described in their nomination letter the following week.