“Heart-warming.” “Challenging.” “Eye-opening.” “Unforgettable.”
These are some of the words two dozen Logan County high school upperclassmen used to describe their six-month “Student United Way” experience that concluded in April. To culminate their work, the students awarded $10,000 to five local programs that will support their peers.
· Union Station received $2,675 for its upcoming Community Summer Program, a seven-week day camp for children age five to 12.
· The Bellefontaine Joint Recreation District earned $2,000 toward the purchase of an inflatable screen to be used in area parks to establish a new Movie in the Park Series that plans bring families and groups together.
· Christ Our King Church in Bellefontaine was awarded $2,000 toward outreach to draw kids from sixth through 12th grade to their “BrkRm Community Youth Center.”
· Consolidated Care is getting $1,825 to provide drug and alcohol prevention in targeted neighborhoods in Bellefontaine and Russells Point this summer.
· And $1,500 is going to help 75 gifted first through seventh graders enroll in the Summer Enrichment Academy in June.
“There are real needs and real issues all over our community,” said Nick Kurtz, a Bellefontaine High School junior. “I’ve learned that in allocating this money, there are no bad choices, only good and better choices. This experience taught me a lot about making important, influential decisions.”
The Youth Allocations process is unique among area United Ways and offers students representing all five Logan County high schools and Ohio Hi-Point Career Center a leadership development opportunity that serves as a mini-version of the adult United Way volunteer experience. The stakes are high because real money is involved and lives are affected by the decisions students make.
Many grant requests submitted
Adding to the challenge this year? An abnormally high amount of grant requests were submitted, meaning the students had to collectively determine how to best pare $35,325 from seven grant requests down to the $10,000 they were given to allocate from the 2015-16 United Way campaign.
“I learned to work with others who have differing opinions, but with a common goal of helping our community,” said Brett Rappold, an Ohio Hi-Point senior of the extensive discussions surrounding the funding decisions. “Being a part of this group helps everyone in the community and builds communication and leadership skills.”
“I really enjoyed being around students from other schools and hearing about the different challenges that each community faces,” said Dylan Albright, a junior at Indian Lake. “But more importantly, I learned how to make a difference in the community and how to stand up to those challenges.”
Monthly meetings are held at diverse locations so that participants can see first-hand what goes into the annual giving and allocation cycle. This year, students toured the Honda Heritage Center and heard from company officials about the importance of corporate and personal giving. They toured agencies like Our Daily Bread and the Neighborhood Outreach Center to see how donor dollars are used.
They then discussed issues affecting lives in their schools, families, and youth organizations, narrowing down a list of concerns into the three priority areas for awarding the grant money they had available. Those areas were mental health and counseling, substance abuse, and after-school or summer activities.
“It gives you a heavy dose of reality and may open your eyes to a new passion of helping people,” said Kennedy Collinsworth, a junior at Ohio Hi-Point. “I didn’t know what to think walking through the door on the first day. But I learned how to interact with total strangers and come to logical conclusions.”
“Being in this program has taught me to speak my opinion and I have learned so much about the community,” said Courtney Garwood, a junior at Benjamin Logan High School. “I even learned about programs that I had no idea even existed. It is so important for our community to support United Way because without it, who knows where Logan County would be.”
It’s the mission of United Way of Logan County to facilitate successful agency partnerships that enable a safe, healthy, and caring community. More than just a fundraiser, United Way collaborates with businesses, non-profits, government, and civic organizations to help meet the social service needs of the community.
For more information, visit www.uwlogan.org or call (937) 592-2886.
Submitted by United Way of Logan County.