When the Network was started, there were many all over the country who were an important part of making it happen. There was energy, excitement and enthusiasm. But it was Tom, who was serving as the chairperson of the first task force, and then the first president of the Network, who emotionally carried the Network on his shoulders, calling people together, casting a wide vision, and making it happen.
Tom was a youth minister, serving in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and then a pastor, serving at Olivet Lutheran in Fargo, North Dakota and then at Westwood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
Tom was diagnosed early in 2000 with an aggressive form of cancer. After a short, but courageous battle with the disease, Tom died just before Thanksgiving of that year. He is survived by his wife, Lynn and his 2 children, along with many family members, many friends, and this Network.
To honor Tom, the Network Board created an award, the Tom Hunstad Award for Excellence in Youth and Family Ministry. The award is given annually, by the Network. It is not a “youth minister of the year” award…there are no nominations made.* Rather it is an honor, bestowed on someone by the Network through its board. We select someone that we want to honor and to thank for their service. It is the highest award given in the field of youth and family ministry…as far as we know, it is also the only award given in the field of youth and family ministry.
The 2014 Tommy Award Presentation