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SCCF News

By JoAnna Ness, Nov 7 2019 03:08PM


FIST is a student-led organization comprised of 19 students in grades 8-12 from Hamilton, Angola and Fremont. The mission statement is to empower the youth of Steuben County to become the leaders of tomorrow by sharing their resources and empowering others to donate their time, talents and treasures. FIST members run their monthly meetings, working through an agenda and taking minutes to note their discussions about grant requests and volunteer activities. Every October, FIST organizes a canned food drive at the schools and visits Angola, Fremont, and Hamilton neighborhoods to trick or treat for canned goods. In 2019, they collected more than 8,000 cans from Fremont, Angola, and Hamilton. The students also volunteer with the annual pie auction and help wrap gifts during the holiday season with Cops for Kids.


Although there are other youth volunteering organizations in Steuben County, FIST is unique for a few reasons. First, they gather students from three different school systems who may not have otherwise interacted. Second, they are part of a larger network of youth pods which were established by the Dekko Foundation in Indiana, Alabama, Iowa, and Minnesota. Finally, FIST is entirely youth-led. Any decisions about new volunteer projects, grantmaking, or educational programming comes from the students in their meetings. Adults offer support and connections when needed, but it’s clear that the students are responsible for the impact of FIST. In addition to support from SCCF, the members of FIST benefit from having a guide who represents each school. These three guides provide transportation for the students to the meetings, raise tough questions, and offer support by answering questions students have between meetings.


FIST collaborates with other nonprofits who offer youth programming or volunteer opportunities in the community. They awarded a grant to Cahoots Coffee Café to support monthly game nights, and FIST members are often in attendance sharing their experiences with other youth in the community.


Current FIST President, Isabell Deem, shared, “My experience in FIST helped me become an all-around stronger leader and taught me skills that I have been able to apply in other clubs and extracurricular activities, such as the Angola Mayor’s Youth council and the golf team.”


Click the link below to watch FIST members discuss their experiences learning about philanthropy:

https://youtu.be/RxQ8QY3xKcQ


By JoAnna Ness, Oct 21 2019 07:27PM

SCCF operates on a timeline of “forever,” with most gifts and donations permanently invested in endowment funds. These funds generate interest which is used to make grants for nonprofits, provide scholarships, and support other community projects. In September, a donor decided to take the idea of “forever” and apply it to a new audience – the animals at the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County. Rhonda Hanson and Gary Probst generously hosted a unique housewarming party, asking attendees to make a donation to the shelter’s endowment fund through SCCF in lieu of gifts. In total, they raised more than $70,000 to help the Community Humane Shelter of Steuben County find more forever homes for the shelter’s animals.



By JoAnna Ness, Oct 21 2019 07:25PM

Although Charles “Chad” Craig became known as a star cross country runner, he was often sick as a baby. He struggled to gain weight and was in and out of the hospital. When the family found out that Chad had cystic fibrosis, his mother, Sheila Petry, was able to help him turn a corner. Sheila learned about special enzymes that would help Chad digest his food, and they gave him breathing treatments several times a day to help clear the mucus in his lungs. With these tools in use, Chad was finally able to gain weight and learn how to walk. They moved back to Steuben County, and Chad started school at Fremont Elementary. With the help of great teachers who called home when there were colds going around, he as able to stay safe and get an education. At the age of 5, a former Olympian named Hermon Phillips met Chad and said, “We’re going to make you strong.” Phillips ran the 400 meter dash in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, and he used his training to help Chad. They marked of distances in the road and Chad worked his way up, running a little farther each time. The exercise helped Chad gain strength, and his doctor prescribed running when he returned to school.


Chad loved football and wanted to play in school, but he was too small. Instead, he took up cross country and loved his coach, Bob Head. The owner of a local restaurant in Fremont, the Char-Boy, made a deal with Chad that every time he improved his score, Chad could get a shrimp dinner. That was a great motivation, and Chad became a cross country campion record setter. “He just had this inner strength that was amazing,” said Sheila. Chad ran 135 miles in the summer between his junior and senior year. “He ran because he wanted to beat cystic fibrosis,” said Sheila.


Chad went to Manchester University with scholarships, and graduated from Tri-State with a degree in biology and physical education. After graduating, he worked for his uncle, Sam, in the timber business. He loved riding horses and was a trained hunter and fisherman. He loved spending time with his brother, Todd, his sister, Candy, his nieces and nephews, and his partner, Kristi.


Later in life, Chad struggled more with his illness. He caught pneumonia and was hospitalized for a time. He became resistant to antibiotics after a lifetime of taking them to fight lung infections. However, his family remarked that Chad never complained. His response to people asking how he was doing was always something like, “oh, about average!”


The Chad Craig Memorial Scholarship Foundation was established after his death in 2009, and it has provided an annual scholarship for a Fremont student who was a member of Cross County for at least 3 years. Now, the fund will continue on in a new form, administered at the Steuben County Community Foundation. “We can breathe a sigh of relief,” shared Sheila Petry, “and I hope it keeps his memory alive in Fremont.” The family would like to thank the many community members and pool players who supported their fundraising for a decade. Additional contributions to the scholarship can be made through the Steuben County Community Foundation.


By JoAnna Ness, Sep 23 2019 08:28PM


Cahoots Coffee Café was founded in 2003 as a collaboration between Angola United Methodist Church and First Congregational United Church of Christ. Members of the two churches had concerns that there were kids around town in Angola who didn’t have a safe place to hang out after school and in the summer. They came up with the solution of establishing a café that supports programming for youth. The mission of Cahoots is to serve the youth by providing a safe, non-threatening, non-judgmental venue to share their talents and cultivate their own gifts and develop meaningful relationships with caring adults and peers. They make this clear by displaying their organizational covenants across large posters, which helps Cahoots remain a safe and fun place for everyone.


In addition to serving good coffee and food, Cahoots has a wide variety of programs that are designed to meet its mission. They offer open mic nights, poetry slams, game nights, snow day lunches, mentoring, and more. Another recent activity was a t-shirt contest, where they allowed students to design a shirt for Cahoots, then picked two winners to have their designs brought to life. The students were excited to see their artwork printed on a shirt for Cahoots.


Scott Poor, Executive Director of Cahoots, has been with the organization since fall 2018. “My favorite part about working with Cahoots is getting to know the young people and meeting community members who want to contribute to the success and mission of Cahoots.” He shared a recent story of kids who had attended open mic nights with 60 or 70 people. Initially they came to Cahoots as observers, but with time they were encouraged by other musicians and it built up their confidence. Now, you might see one of them up on stage as a performer.


Like many nonprofits, Scott shared that the board and volunteers of Cahoots are crucial to its success. Although they collaborate with a number of nonprofits and have received support from local businesses, raising money for their programming remains a challenge. He shared that Cahoots is “a home away from home” for some of the youth who have discovered its opportunities, and said, “I hope Cahoots can help kids who feel alienated and insecure.”


Check out the video nonprofit spotlight with Scott Poor:

https://youtu.be/ybFPK66L0w4







By JoAnna Ness, Aug 20 2019 05:50PM


Friends of Pokagon is a new nonprofit working to help Pokagon State Park remain the great place it is. They serve as the fundraising and friend-raising arm of the park, creating buzz and excitement about park activities while fundraising for expansions to programming. Although general operations at Pokagon are supported by entrance fees, the state may not have the funds or may not prioritize certain projects at Pokagon like updating historic structures. Friends of Pokagon hopes to provide a new opportunity for the 680,000 people per year who visit the park to contribute to its long-term viability as well.


Kelly Trusty helped kickstart the group, and she’s excited to see it grow. “My favorite part is sharing the park with people and talking with them about all the features here.” Friends of Pokagon benefits from a diverse founding board, with a variety of skills and plenty of passion for Pokagon. “Everyone on the board has memories they cherish of visiting the park, and they want to make sure others have the same opportunity to make their own memories,” said Kelly.