May was the height of graduation season and many families were busy with graduation festivities. Parents and grandparents felt a sense of pride of their graduates for all they accomplished and learned. It’s the same for us here at the Truman Heartland Community Foundation. We had our own graduation dinner on Thursday May 5th for our Youth Advisory Council Seniors who will be going on to college. We had 34 high school seniors involved this year and 13 students and their families were able to join us for the dinner where each student had the opportunity to share their perspective on their experiences in what I refer to as our “School of Philanthropy”. I was filled with a sense of pride as I listened to these students share a few thoughts about their experience and what they had accomplished and learned.
Several of the foundation’s board members were also able to attend the dinner. Our Board Chair, David Jeter’s comment at a recent board meeting was “During my tenure on the board, and particularly this year as board chair, I’ve become acquainted with YAC members. They have demonstrated the kind of budding interest in philanthropy we dream about in the young people in our communities. One of them recently said at a senior recognition event that YAC involvement had helped her learn the meaning of selflessness. I’m proud of the Foundation’s sponsorship of the YAC program and happy that membership in YAC has become such an important part of the lives of so many high school students in our service area.”
Annually, we present at this dinner the Henri Goettel Youth in Philanthropy Award recognizing an outstanding leader of the program. This year this recognition went to Kadreona Shane from Blue Springs South High School who received a $500 college scholarship. This award was created by our board of directors to honor Henri Goettel, our extremely dedicated volunteer who has facilitated this program for the past 18 years. She is an awesome person who gives so much to this program and is truly an expert at engaging the students in learning about philanthropy. At our recent annual picnic for students it was fun to see the number of students who brought their year book for Henri to sign. I saw it as a symbol of her impact on their high school experience and lives.
Our long time staff member Liz McClure also announced and presented her scholarship to Mariah Gilbertson from Grain Valley High School. This scholarship was created by our board and many other long time donors in honor of Liz’s dedicated service to the foundation. She chose to use her scholarship to also assist an outstanding YAC student and selected Mariah this year.
It was a great graduation dinner made very special by the food service staff at Centerpoint Medical Center who provided a fabulous spread. I told Dave Williams, the CEO at Centerpoint, that it was a much better meal than he and I have experienced at some other community events we have attended throughout the year. Centerpoint Medical Center is a great partner of your Community Foundation and our YAC program. Centerpoint provides space, free of charge, for our monthly YAC meetings.
This past year we had 150 students from 13 Eastern Jackson County area high schools involved and we will have even more in this next cycle of the program with the new recruits that joined this spring. There is no summer break for our “School of Philanthropy”. Over the summer this dedicated group will be assisting our grants committee by reviewing the grant requests of programs serving youth. After reviewing the proposals they make site visits to the nonprofits and report their findings to our grants committee which truly values their input and perspective. It’s a very valuable service they provide.
Recently our students also provided a very valuable service to 3 local nonprofits that serve our community: Community Services League (CSL), Lee’s Summit Social Services and Raytown Emergency Assistance Program (REAP). On Saturday May 14, we had students conducting a food drive at the 5 area Hy-Vee’s to help these organizations serve the hungry in our community. I always enjoy working side by side with these great students and share in their excitement in serving the community. We are also very grateful to each of the Hy-Vee store managers who allowed our students to have this service project at their store.
We are very proud of all our Youth Advisory Council graduating seniors and all of the students participating year round in our “School of Philanthropy”.