Moving back to Tyrone and establishing Joshua House was not Jim Kilmartin's plan 15 years ago.
"In the natural, it was the last place I wanted to be," he said.
But he made a commitment to God when he accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord at age 15 that he said still rings true today.
"Whatever you want me to go, where you want me to go, I'll do it," he said he told God.
"God changed my heart and broke my heart for Tyrone - for the kids in Tyrone," he said.
Kilmartin, who was a recent college graduate in 1998, said he spent a lot of time hanging out with kids in pizza places and Burger King.
He said many teens had no direction.
They would often say, "I can't wait to get out of here," said Kilmartin, who is Joshua House's executive director. When he asked them what they wanted to do, they had no idea.
He witnessed a lot of hopelessness and despair.
In Joshua House's first year, three of the young people he was working with committed suicide, including a high school friend.
"I was only 22," Kilmartin said.
"In the second year, only one kid stuck with God," he said."I began to ask myself, what am I doing here?"
Then, he married his college sweetheart, Jessica, and they worked as a team. Friends joined their efforts.
Aaron Craig, Kilmartin's friend at Grove City college, and his wife, Kim, moved to Tyrone to serve as volunteers. Mark and Julie Kosoglow, who attend Keystone Church and Ministries in State College, where Kilmartin was ordained, moved from Bellefonte to Tyrone to help.
He said others moved to the area when they heard him speak, including Jessica Knowlden, the administrative assistant. She heard Kilmartin speak at the ministry school she was attending in Harrisburg. She did an internship at Joshua House and decided to stay.
Through the years, Joshua House has changed.
"In the beginning, the overlooked kids were the focus," Kilmartin said. While they have not been forgotten, Joshua House has expanded to include programs for the community from grade-school students to adults.
A strong volunteer base of 30 to 40 adults helps to keep the programs going.
Kilmartin said he can see changes in Tyrone and believes Joshua House plays a role in that change. He said he has witnessed teens become the first generation in their families to finish high school and others to be the first to graduate from college.
He sees adults becoming healthier and feeling better about themselves, he said.
"The biblical Joshua led the people out of the wilderness into the promised land. It's who we are, it's what we are about," Kilmartin said.