TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – The Ryves Youth Center said farewell to the facilities first and only ever Program Director Jim Edwards.

Edwards time at Ryves Youth Center started in 1982 and has impacted the lives of youth for over 40-years.

Ryves held a going away celebration in Edwards honor as he has capped a 40-year run as its program director. Numerous people whose lives were touched by Edwards were in attendance.

Edwards said the center has made a positive impact on Terre Haute.

“It’s rewarding to know that we’re making a positive change in the community,” Edwards said.

At his farewell ceremony Edwards said he was thrilled to catch up with familiar faces.

“A lot of people came in and told us memories from when they were children, and that’s kind of a neat feeling,” Edwards said.

Many who went through Ryves called it home and those in attendance at Edwards ceremony said he has played a key role in their lives.

“He means a lot and he’s impacted my life,” David Rerdin said. “I’ve been here for 13 years so I’ve known him for a long time.”

“He kept me sober in my life and helped me out when I needed it,” Paul Grinstead said.

“I don’t think you can put into words how big of an impact he has had on the center,” Jim Pinkstaff said. “He’s been here for 40-years so he’s touched the lives of a lot of children.”

Both Grinstead and Rerdin said Edwards was more than just a program director.

“He’s a really good dude and has like a dad to me,” Grinstead said.

“He’s been there when I needed him most, so he is like a dad.” Rerdin said.

Edwards shared at the ceremony how the youth center led him to one of the most important people in his life today.

“I met my wife when she came to volunteer here and that was in 1983,” Edwards said. “The kids convinced me to ask her out and later convinced me to marry her.”

Although he will no longer serve as director Edwards said that he will still play a small role at the center.