By JoAnna Ness, Jul 7 2020 07:38PM
This year, two members of Forever Improving Steuben County Together, the youth philanthropy branch of Steuben County Community Foundation, are graduating from high school. Sydney, one of the graduating seniors, shared that FIST wasn’t “just a bunch of teenagers helping out in the community”, but it shows “how the youth could come together for the greater good of our community and future generations.” Isabell Deem and Sydney Kokinis share a passion for philanthropy and their community. Recently, each of them took time to reflect on their experiences with FIST.
This year's FIST President, Isabell Deem, is a graduating senior from Angola High School and the 2020 Steuben County Recipient of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. During her time in FIST, she learned how to work together to inspire positive change. She shared that her favorite thing about Steuben County is “how willing the community members are to come together.” Isabell shared that FIST has helped her to feel like a “go-getter” and has bolstered her confidence. Every single meeting, event, or volunteer experience was Isabell’s favorite, “I really can’t pick just one.” She encouraged current members to embrace the experience and get more involved. Isabell will attend Indiana University – Bloomington in the fall to major in Chemistry as a Pre-Med student.
Sydney Kokinis is a graduating senior from Fremont High School. She will also be attending Indiana University – Bloomington to major in Business/ Marketing with a minor in Korean. Sydney shared she learned from her time in FIST that, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Sydney’s favorite memory from her time with FIST was competing with other volunteers and members to collect the most canned goods during FIST’s annual Trick-Or-Treat for Canned Goods which supports local food banks. Sydney encouraged other young people to speak up and let their voice be heard. Sydney, like Isabell and other FIST members, shared her love for the solidarity that can be felt in the Steuben County community. She said “schools still have rivals, but whenever it came to something big in the community, differences were set aside.”