Church donates van to nonprofit serving local youth

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

NILES — A local non-profit organization has a new set of wheels thanks to help from a local church.

Benton Harbor’s Harbor of Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church recently donated a 15-passenger van to We-ECHO Youth Services for its transportation needs.

KC Johnson founded WEYS in 2020. The organization has been active in the community, hosting bake sales and activities including Michiana’s Youth Got Talent Show and Resource Fair. The organization also has its annual WEYS 2 Shine summer youth program.

A Buchanan native and Niles High School graduate, Johnson created WEYS as a means to give back to the community and to make a positive impact on the local youth. The van will allow the organization to have safe transportation to and from programming events.

“We needed a way for our students to get back and forth because our program doubled in size since last year,” she said. “We’ve been using Dial-A-Ride and doing the best we can to get around but this will help us tremendously.”

Johnson said that supporting the mental health of the youth has become an important aspect of the organization’s efforts. 

“We’re super excited about that,” she said. “We really exist to help reduce student delinquency and increase mental health awareness and all those kinds of things. Youth suicide is the second leading cause of death in the age range that we work with. We work around mental health and bullying prevention.”

After three years in business, Johnson appreciates the support from community members and organizations alike.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “I know that this is something that the community needs and that I’m supposed to be doing because everything we need ends up coming into place. It’s just been overwhelming to get all the support that we’ve been getting. Every time we need something, the community supports us.”

WEYS is gearing up for its inaugural Dinner and Awards Gala taking place at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18 at Hope Community Church, 2390 Lake St., Niles. The event’s theme is Bright City Lights, Big City Dreams with black, white and gold formal attire. 

Johnson is looking forward to the event and encourages families to sign up. Those interested can contact We-ECHO by phone at (269) 363-1465 or by email at

“It’s just a time for them to get dressed up and have a good night,” Johnson said.