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.” FIST 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 the time to reflect on their experiences with FIST.
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.” Her 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 share their voices. Like Isabell and other FIST members, Sydney 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, we set aside our differences.”
The 2019-2020 FIST President, Isabell Deem, is a graduating senior from Angola High School. Isabell received the 2020 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Steuben County. During her time in FIST, she learned how to work together to inspire positive change. Isabell’s favorite thing is “how willing the community members are to come together.”
FIST helped her to feel like a “go-getter” and has boosted her confidence. 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.