Blue Tassel Farm welcomes hundreds of visitors and inner-city youth each year. Photo credit: Blue Tassel Farm.
Blue Tassel Farm welcomes hundreds of visitors and inner-city youth each year. Photo credit: Blue Tassel Farm.
Delicious food and good music will be a part of the celebration as the Blue Tassel Farm ministry, which helps at-risk youth realize the power and glory of God and creation, holds its annual fundraiser at 6 p.m. Saturday at WILLow LeaVes of Hope, located at 326 Jackson St.

“This particular year we are raising money to do some repairs [on the farm],” says Tim McNamee, founder of Blue Tassel Farm. “We’ve had a lot of damage done to a couple of our cabins from weather and tractors and things that have gone down and things we need to function. We are raising the money to put a new roof on a couple of things, so the kids have a safe place to be.”

During dinner, McNamee will debut his latest CD “Hoosier Roots,” a collection of original songs inspired by Indiana, it’s people and places.

“They are all songs about the state of Indiana or people and places and experiences in the state of Indiana,” he says. “This is just volume one. It’s just my life. My childhood, my faith all mixed into the same thing. Every song on there was given by God.”

Everyone in attendance Saturday will receive a complimentary copy of the CD, McNamee adds.

Following dinner, there will be an auction at 6:45 p.m. that will feature a little more than one dozen items, including signed sports jerseys, guitars, and other memorabilia.

Some of the youth who have visited the farm for a retreat this year and have gotten saved will be greeting visitors, serving people and cleaning tables throughout the evening, as well as sharing their personal stories.

“And, at the very end, we will ask people to give their best gift,” McNamee says.

For more than 30 years, McNamee and his wife, Kathy, have worked with inner city youth and at-risk populations in and around the Indianapolis area. A few years ago, the couple decided it was time to continue their ministry, but in a very unconventional way.

When the couple moved to the Hope area they had a vision, but God had His own in mind, McNamee says.

In 2016, McNamee and his wife, Kathy, relocated just 35 or so miles outside of Hope with a vision of starting a ministry to help inner-city youth learn about the love of God through creature and creation – those things they’ve never seen before or had any experience with in a relatable, mundane way.

Now, more than six years later, Blue Tassel Farm has grown beyond what the McNamee’s envisioned was possible and the only way left to go is onward and upward.

“We had a three-to-five-year plan to get Blue Tassel Farm up and going,” McNamee says. “But God allowed it to move much quicker than that. We had our grand opening in 2018 and we’ve been doing it ever since.”

If they reach just one child and are able to make a difference, that is a blessing, McNamee says.

“Our job is to teach them there is one authority that can help you get out of this,” McNamee says. “We’ve seen them do it. If we have one of 20 kids make it out of the inner city that is a success.”

The farm’s annual operating budget is an estimated $140,000, McNamee says. That funding allows for McNamee to serve as a full-time missionary, one full-time farm hand and one part-time office staff.

Historically, BTF’s WILLow LeaVes Fundraiser has brought in between $10,000 and $15,000 annually, McNamee says. He is hopeful this weekend’s event will rival, and maybe exceed, previous years.

“When we were ministering in the inner city, we bussed in 400 to 500 kids a week and did kids church for them,” McNamee recalls. “Out here, we believe God wanted us to narrow it down to about 12 kids at a time and spend a lot of time with them rather than do a mass number of kids.”

McNamee says the kids’ reactions when they arrive at the 10-acre property, which has three Amish-constructed cabins that sleep six people each, are fantastic. Many have never been in the country, let alone have met a cow, seen a chicken, hiked a forested trail or rode a horse.

This year BTF has hosted six retreats so far, which is more retreats than it ever has, and by season’s end when it’s time to carve pumpkins, there will have been nine more.

McNamee says during retreat weekends everything moves at about 1,000 miles per hour. The kids arrive around noon on Friday and depart Sunday evening. However, during the time in between, these kids – and adults, too – are learning and experiencing all kinds of new things.

“We are teaching them about the love of God through Creature and Creation, so they interact with all our animals,” McNamee says. “They get to ride their first horse, catch their first fish, they fetch their own eggs for breakfast. It is really to make the time so special they never forget it and want to come back the next year.”

After more than 30 years in the ministry, McNamee says what fuels his passion is being able to show the youth and adults who visit the farm that there is a better way.

“The main benefit is, and we aren’t shy about it, we are there to show them the love of Jesus Christ and help them to make a decision to follow Christ,” McNamee says. “We’ve had 17 [make the decision] so far this year. Seven in the last retreat we had with Angel Tree kids – who are kids of incarcerated parents. Essentially, we are making them a part of our family. “

And with society’s current climate, there is more need now than ever to reach out.

McNamee says recent mass shootings, including the one in Greenwood earlier this month, only serve to highlight the necessity for the ministry. Those who have grown up in environments where gun violence is just a part of life, oftentimes, may not realize a better way not only exists, but is entirely possible for them.

“The way our world has turned, these kids are growing up in the middle of that and it is more important than ever to show them there’s a better way and God is the way,” McNamee says. “That is what I will spend the rest of my life doing. That’s all there is to it. This is my call to help any poverty-stricken families who are being kept down by their circumstances, showing them a better way and helping them get out.”

In addition to BTF’s hope to reach its $15,000 fundraising goal Saturday evening, McNamee says he is going to highlight the need for monthly partnerships.

“We are looking for monthly partners who will walk with us consistently because there is a budget that has to be kept and then, of course, there are projects that need to be done,” he says.

McNamee says he is hopeful for the event on many fronts, but most importantly that the message of the ministry and its works are received and recognized as an opportunity to make a difference.

“There is no question about it that we are trying to pull at the heartstrings of people to show them what the need is and secondly, how they can make a difference,” McNamee says. “My hope is always that they see these kids are in trouble and if someone doesn’t step in to help them, they will follow in the steps of their parents and grandparents. When we are working with any of these families, if they show they want more and are serious about getting out of their situation, we help them by giving them the tools to get out.”