A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to the 26 Hall County students involved in the Youth Philanthropy Board, which has awarded $20,000 to four local nonprofit organizations.

The board was formed in partnership between the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation and Youth Leadership Tomorrow in the fall of 2018. It is a youth education and leadership program designed to teach the art, science and business of community philanthropy. It covers topics such as creating community impact, vitalizing donor engagement and building strategic volunteerism.

The students developed their grant process and the policy surrounding it. The grants are to fund projects that serve youths in Hall County. After 11 local nonprofits submitted applications, the high school juniors and seniors on the board considered the applications, including visiting the project sites.

They decided to give $4,615 to Teen Reach Camp to help supplement camp tuition for abused, abandoned and neglected, or identified as high-risk youth; $2,130 to Crisis Center of Grand Island for healthy relationship education and abuse prevention curriculum for local teens; $5,000 to Grand Island Children’s Museum for 2020 STEM pop up exhibits for youth in the community that will be transitioned into the upcoming permanent location and help establish brand recognition; and $8,255 to Heartland CASA to help support foster children with mental health initiatives while transitioning into foster care.

Being directly involved in assessing local nonprofits’ plans to serve youths and awarding a considerable amount of money is a powerful lesson to these students.

We also salute the Greater Grand Island Community Foundation and Youth Leadership Tomorrow for making it happen.

Voice for Companion Animals meeting seniors’ needs

We also salute Voice for Companion Animals, which has helped low-income pet owners in the Grand Island area since 2011, totally through volunteer staffing. The nonprofit provides pet food and supplies (through its AniMeals program), some medical care and education to pet owners. The programs are provided as a temporary help to allow owners who are facing tough economic struggles to remain with their pets.

It operates solely on local donations and grant funding. But the owner of its building at 524 S. Webb Road has decided to sell the building, so VCA is hoping to buy it. It has about half of the money it needs and has sought grant funding to cover the rest, but, considering the coronavirus pandemic, that grant funding is uncertain right now.

They also had to cancel plans for a fundraiser this spring and Go Big Give, which has provided VCA some funding in the past, has been delayed from this month to July.

The nonprofit needs to have the money to buy the building by June 1, so the need is immediate. Donations can be made through the VCA website, voiceforcompanionanimals.com.

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