PENQUIS - Research shows that youth engaged in philanthropy lead in volunteering and giving throughout their lives. Forward-thinking Maine foundations Unity Foundation and Maine Community Foundation along with corporate partner, UniTel, Inc., applied this knowledge to fund an initiative to teach Maine middle and high school students about the value of hands-on community commitment and the principles of "smart" philanthropy.
Students in the Penquis Valley High School Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program were among the students invited to participate in this program known as Jumpstart Our Youth, or JOY. The Penquis Valley JMG program, along with 67 JMG programs throughout the state, was provided $1,000 by the JOY funding partners to award as grants. Like foundation program officers, students designed and distributed requests for proposals (RFP), reviewed applications from local youth-serving nonprofits, participated in site visits, reviewed budgets — and then awarded grants.
Penquis JMG students chose to select two non-profit organizations serving young people, based on their service to our local community, the nature of the projects, programs and activities these organizations promote, and an examination of their funding sources and budgets. $500 was awarded to Evergreen, the Pine Tree Hospice Center for Grieving Children and Adults, a safe place where children, teens, adults and families grieving a death can share their experiences, located in nearby Dover-Foxcroft.
The knowledge shared in the RFP that approximately one-third of children in an average classroom experience the loss of a parent, grandparent, sibling, other relative, family friend, classmate or a pet was a compelling argument toward providing Evergreen with funding, according to JMG student Katrina Nickerson.
$500 in grant money was also awarded to Womancare’s Harmony Camp, a summer program for children ages six through nine, with programs in Milo, Greenville, Guilford, Dover-Foxcroft, Dexter, and Monson. The camp focuses on self-esteem, friendship, feelings, teamwork, bullying and teasing, and uses arts, crafts, literature, games and songs to explore these concepts. Cynthia Freeman Cyr, Interim Executive Director of Womancare, says space is still available. Tuition is $10 to cover the costs of t-shirts and supplies, and scholarships are available. She adds that teen volunteers help make the camps possible, and for those who wish to assist with the program, they may call 564-8165.
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