Founders, Board President and Vice President – Aaron & Jill Wilson
Aaron and Jill Wilson have been married for over 25 years and are the parents of three biological children. They have been local entrepreneurs for over 20 years in the retail floor covering industry and then in residential and commercial property restoration and construction. Both Floor Crafters and A&D Restoration continue to thrive today, but their true passion is in mentoring and developing the self-confidence and skills of young people, often going after the lost and forgotten ones in their community.
Jill and Aaron both grew up on the NW side of Indianapolis and have lived in the Michigan Rd. Highlands neighborhood since 1995. They first fell in love with youth ministry, through Young Life while at Pike High School. They went on with YL, as leaders, while at Purdue and went on to lead the youth of their local congregation for 14 years.
The neighborhood Str8Up club began in the Wilson’s front yard , as a one week outreach called “Kid’s Club,” back in 2000. They had a large turnout of kids from the community and saw the need for positive influence and the love of God. They originally thought that they would head overseas after selling their first business, but God redirected their lives to their “backyard” and Kid’s Club grew to weekly meetings, hang times at their home and miscellaneous adventure outings until it became an official 501c3 in 2009.
Aaron & Jill have done everything together… building family, business and the nonprofit. They enjoy adventure sports together, beautiful places and people. They would rather be outside than inside most any day of the year and have a ton of fun together. It has been a wild ride, but they have found the Way, the Truth and the Life won’t let them live it any other way!
Board of Directors
Beau Wilfong is an entrepreneur and businessman with 35 years experience in the real estate industry. He has owned and managed shopping centers, a water and sanitary sewer utility as well as developed real estate for residential construction in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. He has been married for 34 years and the father of 4 adult children. Success in both business and personal life is paramount for him. His goal has been to be a winner both in business and family. Additionally, Beau has been active in volunteering in his community with his specialty in mentoring young men in life issues. The past 20 years he has personally mentored, as a life coach, 30 young men which he considers to be his crowning achievement.
Andy accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation and began to follow after him as Lord when he was in high school. Because of a series of difficult circumstances at that time, he found himself empty and saw his need for the Lord to fill his life. He married his wife, Shalyn, in 1995 and they have four children. Andy taught in the public school system for many years before moving to full-time pastoral ministry at the Upper Room Christian Fellowship, West Lafayette, IN in 2014. The Byrn’s have served in Upper Room’s youth ministry, leading several mission trips in and out of the USA, as well as in Home Group leadership. Andy states, “My desire is to know the Lord with all my being and to help others know the Lord. I love the Church and want to see the body of Christ function in all the Lord desires for His Church. Andy received his bachelor’s from Wittenberg University and his Master’s from Indiana Wesleyan.
Travel, adventure and entrepreneurship are a few of the hallmarks of Ray’s story. Though Ray was born in New York, some of his earliest memories are of the of the timber farm he grew up on in Greencastle, Indiana. As a young adult, the draw of entrepreneurship proved strong, and after attending DePauw University Ray began his first business. During the three years he operated that business, he married his lovely wife Ramona. Upon selling his first business, Ray & Ramona bought a sailboat. Ray earned his captain’s license, and drove tour boats & luxury yachts professionally along the east coast. This chapter of the Rice family’s story closed soon after the birth of their first child; the new family of three moved back to Indiana, trading in coasts for cornfields. Ray demonstrated that “once an entrepreneur” means “always an entrepreneur,” and after working in management for several years he began Digital Sight & Sound, which he still owns and operates today. Ray’s involvement in Str8Up began shortly after, in 2000. Ray’s service with Str8Up overflows from a desire to do good. In Ray’s words, “I can see that lives are being impacted, and it’s a way that I can support those that are in the trenches.” Today, as the journey goes on, Ray sits on the board of Str8Up Ministries. He continues to use his keen eye for opportunity and potential to lead initiatives at other organizations & businesses as well, such as the Boone County Airport Association, Bittersweet Hill Timber Farm, and the Home Artisans of Indiana. He & Ramona celebrate 24 years of marriage, and are the proud parents of their three children: Megan, Grant, and William.
Greg Strand – Executive Director
Greg Strand has had the privilege to work in the marketplace and in ministries in many diverse settings around the country and the world. He’s worked in businesses for 8 years and in various ministries for over 38 years. Some of those expressions included 19 years in Para Church ministries highlighted by 7 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association totaling 23 city & university crusade gatherings with Mr. Graham. These included setting up 6 Ivy League Schools for Mr. Graham, stadiums of 86,000+ people including mobilizing 14 language groups in Anaheim CA, military bases, the Pentagon, and mobilized outreaches throughout the country in prisons and to youth. He also served with Billy Graham’s Mission England as Crusade Director in Bristol England. Serving in an array of pastoral roles, Greg has worked in several churches for over 15 years including outreach efforts in inner city Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Mexico and has engaged in international ministry in India, Ukraine, England, Kenya, South Africa, Mexico, and Canada. The past five years he has directed City Mosaic connecting urban churches and organizations with mid-town and suburban churches. Together they mobilized over 600 volunteers to tutor in 14 IPS schools on a weekly basis. But perhaps all the years have lead to his passion which is to impact this generation of our most at-risk students in urban Indianapolis and those often forgotten in the townships to find wholeness, healing and hope in Jesus. For the past 6 years he and his wife Beth have rehabbed a house living close to 10th and Rural and have built many relationships with their neighbors. Beth has been mentoring young at-risk students of Indianapolis for over 20 years.
Greg believes that not only our proximity but especially our ethos of love, care, and presence laid by17 years of engaging kids by Aaron and Jill Wilson have laid a foundation to bring transformation to many of our kids caught in generational poverty. So now with our Character Camps, Summer Camps, Leaders in Training (LIT) and our weekly gatherings, as well as building networks with the private, public and non-profit sectors in greater Indy, that over time we can influence thousands of kids and see transformation in this generation.