Tag Archives: Volunteerism

2023-2024 Youth Philanthropy Recap

LIFE is a youth philanthropy program of the LaGrange County Community Foundation. LIFE members gain experiences in community service and charitable giving. The students also provide oversight to youth grant funds at the Community Foundation.

During the 2023 – 2024 school year LIFE offered one grant cycle, awarding $17,495 to youth serving organizations and school projects.

The meetings were packed full of grantmaking decisions and planning for LEAP. They broke into event committees to conquer and divide. LEAP is a one-day event for youth, grades 9 -12, from all three public high schools to learn about philanthropy, community service and leadership. The event had two guest speakers: Seth Maust from Five Star Life and Octavia Yoder with the Community Foundation.

The students began their community service projects in December by delivery generosity cards. Students who participated in LEAP helped create these impactful cards of gratitude for local nonprofits, fire departments, police, and for the businesses who financially supported the LEAP event. In February, LIFE visited with residents at the Waters. They connected while playing games and visiting.

Jamelle Godlewski from Lead and Impact shared about seven habits of highly effective people and helped the students create personal mission statements.

Gwen Owsley was a member of LIFE and Westview’s junior class representative. For the past two years, she served as co-recorder. She was instrumental in helping fundraise for the LEAP event. We were deeply saddened by her unexpected passing. Our hearts are with her family, friends, and all those who loved her. We will remember her bright smile, joyful demeanor, and her enthusiastic spirit in all that she did.

LIFE closed the 2023-2024 school year with the May retreat. They completed a final community service project at the Garage Community Center in LaGrange, packing meals for LaGrange County Hope.

As we plan for next school year, we hope to continue encouraging philanthropy in our community and peers, experience community service and charitable giving through grantmaking.

LIFE youth program volunteers at Council on Aging

LIFE, a youth philanthropy program of the LaGrange County Community Foundation, provides an opportunity for youth to gain experience in grantmaking, charitable giving and community service. The members participate in service projects and biannually host LEAP (Leaders Excited About Philanthropy) – a one day event focused on philanthropy and leadership for LaGrange County high school students.

LIFE members also provide oversight for the LIFE Grantmaking Fund at the Community Foundation. They review grant applications and recommend funding for youth projects.

The program is open to students from Lakeland, Westview, and Prairie Heights Schools. One student from each grade (9-12) is selected to represent their school, with up to 12 members.

In April, LIFE volunteered at the LaGrange County Council on Aging’s monthly luncheon; members helped serve the meal and enjoyed conversation with the luncheon guests.

2023-24 LIFE Group at the LaGrange County Council on Aging

President of the 2023-24 LIFE group Braden Rogers shared, “We volunteered at the Lagrange Council on Aging and served food to older individuals, had conversations with them, and made them feel special. As a youth lead philanthropic organization, it is important to spread the love of our young souls. We enjoyed seeing the smiles on all of the people faces and hope to partake in this event next year. Seeing the smiles of the older generations, hearing their incredible stories, and most of all, meeting new friends were all takeaways from this experience.”

LIFE President Braden Rogers shares at the COA luncheon.

In February, LIFE also had the opportunity to serve at The Waters in LaGrange, an assisted living facility. LIFE members visited during the recreational hour and enjoyed interacting with residents and playing bingo.

LIFE will meet one more time during the 2023-2024 school year for their annual retreat this May. Before the retreat, members look forward to joining the nonprofit organization Meals of Hope in LaGrange to pack meals for children in need.

LIFE will then travel to Camp Lutherwald in Howe for fun and team building, concluding their activities for the school year. The program will resume this fall after the start of the new school year.

2024 Showcase winners, Intentional Acts of Kindness and more!

On Jan. 11, members of the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce joined together for a Member Showcase and the Annual Meeting. This year, the staff of the LaGrange County Community Foundation won the 2024 Member Showcase!

Each year, Chamber invites members to showcase their organization or business prior to their Annual Meeting. The Community Foundation wanted to inspire kindness this year with their booth.

Decked out in pink and red hearts, the booth had information about their upcoming Intentional Acts of Kindness Calendar. In February, the Foundation will be participating in acts of kindness each day, and encouraging others to join in. You can join in on the Intentional Acts of Kindness Event Page!

LCCF is also excited about a new matching opportunity. The Caring Community Fund supports the greatest needs in LaGrange County, at any given time, making impact forever. The Foundation intends to apply for a $750,000 Matching Fund Grant from Lilly Endowment to support the Foundation’s unrestricted endowment, which will provide resources to present and future needs.

The Community Foundation is asking people and businesses like YOU to give to the Caring Community Fund.

For every $1 you give, the matching grant will give $2, giving the fund a total of $3! If you would like to give to this fund DONATE HERE, chose to give to a specific fund, then chose the Caring Community Fund.

Leaders Excited About Philanthropy 2023

Wednesday, November 15, National Philanthropy Day, our LIFE youth philanthropy members hosted the bi-annual LEAP Event, Leaders Excited About Philanthropy. Students from our 3 county public schools are encouraged to get involved in their community during this one-day conference on leadership and philanthropy. 

Our 12 LIFE members along with their LIFE leader, Leanna Martin have been working since Spring 2023 to organize this event for high schoolers from Lakeland, Prairie Heights and Westview. This year’s event was held at Lakeland high school. The members chose the speakers, nonprofits in attendance, icebreakers, snacks and even found donations and sponsors for the event.

There were a lot of fun and education activities throughout our 4 hours together. Our time included lots of Icebreakers for the kids to get to know each other. They also organized a Community Nonprofit Fair in which volunteers/ employees from Agape Missions of LaGrange County, LaGrange County Community Foundation, Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity, and Reason 4 Hope attended. These nonprofits spoke to the kids and shared how they started, where they are located, what they do, and how a person could get involve or help the nonprofit. After the student listened to the nonprofit, they would get their Passports signed to enter for prizes. The prizes were donated from many of our awesome community members, nonprofits and business (see list below!).

We also had a great speaker, Coach Seth Maust from Five Star Life. He spoke to the kids on looking beyond themselves to see others, leaders volunteer first, as well as many other good philanthropic ideas. Octavia Yoder, Executive Director at LaGrange County Community Foundation also spoke to the students about philanthropy, working for a nonprofit and what jobs are available, notably in our area. There was also a small Community Service Project they were able to participate in.

Before they left, students were asked to take part in an end of event survey, in which 100% of the 45 students who participated, said that they would recommend LEAP to a friend.

Our LIFE members did an amazing job of working hard and running the event. But none of that would have been possible without the donations and sponsorships from our community. We want to thank the following individuals/ businesses/ nonprofits for helping the LEAP event be a success:

Donations: Crossroads United Way, E&S Sale, Elijah Haven, Farmers State Bank, Habitat for Humanity, LaGrange County CVB, LaGrange County REMC, Lassus Bros. Handy Dandy in Wolcottville and Yoder Popcorn. Financial Support: Cierra Young & Jessyca Castle, LaGrange Veterinarian Clinic, Shipshewana Trading Place, Tammi Haviland, The Riegseckers, Inc., Topeka Pharmacy and Wear Haus Designs.

2023 Annual Celebration: A Success!

This year’s Annual Celebration took place on Monday, June 12. It was a combination of delicious food, great information from some nonprofits, some encouragement to “take that extra step” because “we were born for such a time as this” from guest speaker Jason Schackow, and a celebration of volunteerism.

We are thrilled to have so many people who want to volunteer for the Community Foundation, whether on our board, on a committee, or other. We can’t say thanks enough or give anything that would be enough to express our gratitude for their time.

We also named our Spring Community Impact Grant recipients as well. The following organizations will receive grant funds of $71,736:  

  • LaGrange County Arts will receive $5,000 for the second annual LaGrange County Arts Festival. The June 24 event will showcase artists specializing in theatrical, literary, visual and musical arts. 
  • St. Martin’s Healthcare will receive $25,000 for its mobile health clinic. The organization provides healthcare to uninsured and underinsured people in LaGrange, Noble, Steuben and DeKalb counties. Their mobile clinic will visit LaGrange County at least once a week to see patients.
  • Community Dental Clinic in Topeka will receive $20,000 to help purchase an oral scanner helping their organization provide more effective dental care. 
  • Rainbow Years Learning Ministry will receive $21,736 to help purchase materials, furniture, equipment, toys/activities for the childcare’s upgraded facilities. Rainbow Years Expansion Project will be adding 25 more childcare seats.

We were thrilled to celebrate our 10 nominees for the Heart of Gold Award. What a unique group of people, who all do a variety of volunteerism, and a beautiful example of what the people in this county can do. See more about their stories HERE.

The highlight of the evening was naming our 2023 Heart of Gold recipient. All of the nominees could be given the award, because in their own ways they do so much for those around them.

Amy Whited of LaGrange was chosen as our Heart of Gold Award recipient. Whited, an art teacher at Lakeland Intermediate School, was nominated for the award by her mentor and friend, Mary Woodworth. Whited credited her mentor for encouraging her to pursue a creative path.

Known to serve quietly in the background, Whited is involved in volunteer activities for youth – especially in art. She is a 25-year member of Tri Kappa Mu, a local women’s sorority focused on philanthropy, and helps organize the annual Tri Kappa Art Month. A board member of LaGrange Communities Youth Centers, she leads and instructs an annual summer art camp for elementary students. She volunteers with Camp Watcha Wanna Do and LaGrange Night to Shine. This past year, she was instrumental in helping support a new arts organization – LaGrange County Arts.

Overall the evening was a success!

Thank you to the following for all you did in helping us make the 2023 Annual Celebration a night to remember!

  • George’s Taco Shack for the dinner.
  • Shawna Rae’s for the cupcake spread.
  • Braden Rogers for the music.
  • MY Events LLC, Megan Yoder for the photo backdrop.
  • Kari Lipscomb for photography.
  • Farmstead Inn & Conference Center, Andrea Boval for the facility.
  • Mariah at SRMA for the tablecloths.
  • Judy at Country Garden Center for the table flower pots.
  • Isaac Rogers at Irog Media for the Heart of Gold Nominee video.
  • Lavern at Teaberry Wood Products for donating the engraved basket given to the Heart of Gold Award recipient.
  • Action Quick Print for the printed material.
  • Carrie at Extreme Graphics LLC for the volunteer T-shirts
  • Our panel of speakers: Jared Beasley from Community Health Clinic; Portia Amstutz from Rainbow Years Learning Ministry; and Kathy Dunafin from Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center.
  • Our guest speaker: Jason Schackow, Lakeland Jr/Sr High School principal.
  • Speakers and presenters for the evening: Octavia Yoder, Executive Director at the Foundation; Leanna Martin, Program Director for the Foundation; and Tony Bontrager, President, LCCF Board of Directors & Renea Boots, Vice President, LCCF Board of Directors.
  • Trevor Thain and Renea Boots, LCCF Board of Directors, for helping at the registration tables.
  • Tony & Lauren Bontrager and the staff’s husbands for helping with cleanup afterward.
  • The LaGrange County Community Foundation staff for all of the behind the scenes decisions that helped make this a great event.

Written by: Sarah Hostetler, Marketing & Community Engagement Manager

Heart of Gold Nominees Named

The Heart of Gold Award honors everyday LaGrange County residents who go above and beyond and embrace the call to volunteer service. We are excited to announce that we received 10 nominations for the award during the month of April.

The 2023 Heart of Gold nominees include:

  • Alexis Grossman of Wolcottville. Alexis is the president of Tri Kappa Mu and a member of the LaGrange County 4-H Fair Board.
  • Alice Bremer of LaGrange. Alice runs the Boomerang Backpacks program at Prairie Heights Schools. She volunteers with the Mongo Lions Club and serves as a Leo Club sponsor.
  • Amy Whited of LaGrange. Amy has been a member of Tri Kappa Mu for the past 25 years and volunteers in several art programs. She volunteers with LaGrange County Arts, Night to Shine, and serves on the board of LaGrange Communities Youth Centers.
  • Heather Evenson of Wolcottville. Heather donates her time and is an active board member with LaGrange County Miracle Tree.
  • John Schmidt of LaGrange. John donates his time and energy to helping people in his neighborhood, and serves at his church, Brighton Chapel.
  • Keith James of Howe. Keith is an active board member of The Farm Place, helping raise funds and create awareness. He uses his photography to help promote LaGrange County. Keith, along with another individual, launched the Hometown Heroes banner project in LaGrange County, honoring military and first responders from LaGrange County. Keith is a LaGrange County Chamber board member. He also serves as an Elder at his church, Brighton Chapel.
  • Kevin Myers of LaGrange. Kevin serves on the LaGrange County 4-H Fair Board, LaGrange County Farm Bureau, and he is an active member on the board for the LaGrange County Council on Aging.
  • Mike Brudney of LaGrange. Mike donates his time to running the LaGrange Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, taking every Saturday night away from his family and his own interests to help people in LaGrange County.
  • Randy Merrifield of LaGrange. Randy is a mentor through the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) program, spending quality time with troubled kids, and getting them involved in activities to keep them out of trouble. He also volunteers with Agape Missions of LaGrange.
  • Samantha Davis-Kania of LaGrange. Samantha donates her time to LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity, serving on the board for the last 8 years. She also serves on the LaGrange United Methodist Church Outreach Committee.

In selecting the award recipient, the award committee considers nominees who share their time for the sake for others, render a service that changes lives, work to create positive change, inspire others to volunteer and more.

All nominees are eligible to make a $500 grant to the LaGrange County nonprofit of their choice in their name; the award recipient is eligible to make a $1,000 grant.

We will be announcing the recipient of the 2023 Heart of Gold Award at our Annual Celebration on Monday, June 12. The deadline to register for our celebration is Monday, May 29. If you are interested in attending, please go HERE.

Image by Irog Media

It’s National Volunteer Week! Fun Statistics!

This week (April 16th- 22nd) is National Volunteer Week, and we thought it would be interesting to share some Volunteer statistics with you. These are from an article on Volunteer Hub.

  • One out of four American’s volunteer, two out of three American’s help their neighbor.
  • Individuals between the ages of 35 and 54 are the most likely to volunteer their time.
  • Volunteers are worth on average $28.54 an hour.
  • Volunteerism has a value of over $184 billion dollars.
  • Volunteerism improves health by strengthening the body, improving mood, and lessening stress.
  • Those who volunteer regularly have a 27% better chance of gaining employment.
  • 60% of hiring managers see the act of volunteerism as a valuable asset when making recruiting decisions.
  • Volunteers under the age of 24 accounts for 22.6% of all volunteers.
  • Volunteers, on average, spend 50 hours per year donating their time to the greater good.
  • 67% of people found volunteer opportunities online in 2014 vs 34% in 2006.
  • There are more than 1.8 billion active nonprofits in the United States alone.
  • 66% of volunteers give their time to improve their community, 83% do so to contribute to a cause they care about.
  • People who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest people in the US.
  • 28.2% of Millennials volunteer each year.
  • 30.7% of Baby Boomers volunteer each year.
  • 24.8% of Silent Generation Americans volunteer each year.
  • 39.9% of parents volunteer each each.
  • Utah has the highest rate of volunteers in America (51%).
  • Volunteering decreases the likelihood of high blood pressure development by 40%.
  • 96% of volunteers reported the action enriched their sense of purpose in life.

Every person who has helped another, with no expectation or payment in return, is a volunteer. We, in LaGrange County, count these volunteers as blessings. And it’s one of the many reasons our county is such a special place to live.

“Volunteering is at the very core of being a human.  No one has made it through life without someone else’s help.” – Heather French Henry

Don’t forget, now through May 1st, we at LCCF are accepting applications of this county’s exemplary volunteers for the Heart of Gold Award. For more details and the application, go HERE.

VolunteerHub Link