By WRMS Leadership Students
“The fate of the world is in your hands. What will you do with it?” is a quote from the late Rose Beal, a holocaust survivor, who visited Wood River Middle School students several years ago. The challenge she posed struck a chord with WRMS GATE facilitator, Melanie Schrader, and this year she worked to develop curriculum to help her leadership students meet this challenge. In collaboration with the CenturyLink Philanthropy Project, the Wood River Middle School 7th Grade Leadership Class took on the task of identifying non-profits in our community and determining which ones they would work with to make a difference.
CenturyLink developed their philanthropy project to empower students to give back to their community. As part of the project, leadership students were given grant money in the amount of $3,000 dollars to give to nonprofits. They ended up dividing the money in half and giving it to the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley and The Hunger Coalition. The results of this project impacted these students and our community greatly.
To set the stage for the CenturyLink Philanthropy Project, which requires students to research local non-profits and write summary papers about each, Ms. Schrader kicked off the unit by having students create a super hero version of themselves.
Each student had to determine their mission and purpose for how they would shape the fate of the world and then develop their hero based on their own strengths, talents, gifts, and weaknesses. Students presented their super-hero self to the class and then students formed into groups with other heroes with similar missions. Each group chose a non-profit organization that they felt best matched with their missions and then groups set about researching and interviewing members of the non-profits so that they could meet the requirements of the grant paper. Students investigated each non-profits’ mission, history, programs, community impacts, and needs. Beyond the summary paper, students worked together to create an oral presentation designed to persuade the class to select their non-profit organization as a recipient of the CenturyLink grant money. There were groups supporting nature, animals, hunger, and education.
The groups of students presented to the rest of their class and 8th grade leadership students watched recordings of the presentations. All 7th & 8th grade leadership students individually voted on their top two organizations. The two non profits chosen were The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley and Hunger Coalition.
The Wood River Animal Shelter has been working to adopt out animals in the Wood River Animal Shelter. The shelter converted to a no-kill shelter in 1999. They do everything in their power to rescue animals, and keep them living until adoption. The affable attitude that the staff posses creates a very friendly and ataraxic environment for the animals who remain without a home. To help the Animal Shelter, leadership students took on two different service projects.
The Hunger Coalition, the second organization selected, has a mission statement of striving to end hunger in our community by providing wholesome food to those in need and by promoting solutions to the underlying causes of hunger through collaboration, education and advocacy. Their vision is: “We envision a community free from hunger where all individuals are able to participate as healthy, contributing members.” The Hunger Coalition helped a total of 3,569 people in our community in 2015. The Hunger Coalition has a big impact on our valley and provides many different projects and programs volunteers and those in need can participate in.
The WRMS Leadership classes helped this non-profit by weeding, planting, and watering at the Hope Garden on three separate occasions so they can grow the wholesome food that they need to provide for our community. They visited on the Wednesday’s of May 11th, May 25th, and June 1st for an hour and a half from 4:30 to 6:00. About 15 people attended every time for a total of 60 hours volunteered to the garden.
This project helped meet the Blaine County School District mission to inspire, engage, empower, and educate the students. In this unit, the Wood River Middle School leadership class learned that the nonprofits in our community have a huge impact on us. The felt inspired to help these non profits due to the huge impact both have on the area because they help the people and animals to be their best selves. Helping the non profit organizations in our community really empowered the students to make a positive difference in their community. They learned important 21st century skills such as how to work together, prioritize and communicate. They learned about teamwork by helping with community service and contacting organizations to arrange donations. They learned how to prioritize and communicate when they set up and planned the last two school dances. They learned a lot this school year that they feel will help to benefit their lives in the future. They feel empowered with the knowledge that the hard work the leadership students put into this and other projects is really going to help them in the long run.
By taking on the Centurylink Philanthropy Grant, the WRMS leadership class has learned about the importance of non-profits and was able to help them by fulfilling the grant requirements. CenturyLink donated $3000 for the leadership class to distrubute which they decided to split and give it to two non-profits. By working as a team they were able to benefit our community. In all, these classes gave around 100 hours of their time to both organizations and learned, in Helen Keller’s words, that “alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.”