From helping feed low-income youth, to encouraging Latino students to go to college, to providing a healing environment for teen victims of sexual abuse, the Catawba County Youth Council recently voted on which local nonprofits it wanted to support.
The council has participated in the Catawba County United Way Youth Community Investment process for 16 years, working to find agencies in the county who address the needs of students in one of three impact areas: education, income and health.
This allocation is supported by student fundraising events in local schools. Activities for this year included a penny war at Banoak Elementary, a candy sale at North Newton Elementary, a hat day at Arndt Middle, a dress down day at Newton-Conover Middle and a car wash at Community School.
After the Youth Council makes its recommendations for funding, the Catawba County United Way Board of Directors votes to approve the amount.
This year the council chose five local programs to support: The Corner Table Soup Kitchen’s Backpack program ($3,400), Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center’s Camp Dragonfly ($2,500), St. Stephens High’s Juntos 4-H ($2,000), Morning Star Baptist Church’s Joseph Hill Reach Back Tutoring ($1,200) and Family Care Center’s Getting Techy ($900).
Youth Council president and Challenger Early College High School senior Carrigan Price said being part of the United Way allocation process has shown her how important non-profit agencies are within a community.
“The Backpack Program is one we’ve devoted a lot of our time to because we really see how much it’s impacting the students within the school systems from elementary all the way up to high school,” she said.
The Catawba County United Way Youth Council was formed in 2003 under the direction of Shurtape CEO Stephen Shuford, a United Way Board member at the time. He led this effort with the belief that youth who become involved in their community as a teen, continue to be active as they become adults, according to ccunitedway.com.
In 2014, the Catawba County United Way Youth Council merged with the Catawba County Youth Council. It’s now made up of at least one representative of each high school while the local middle school students are also invited during the allocation presentations.
Newton-Conover High senior Mikey Gordon enjoyed learning about the agencies during the presentations especially how they ran their budgets and programs.
“I really loved seeing how each of them gave back to the community in their own ways,” Gordon said.
Home school senior Josh Carter was interested in learning about the number of youth an agency helps with its program.
“Really, for me, it’s about how much of a footprint they have,” Carter said.
This year’s agencies receiving allocations cover a wide array of services to local youth.
1-Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center – Camp Dragonfly
Assists teen sexual abuse and assault survivors. Funds used to offset this year’s summer camp which provides therapeutic activities.
2-The Corner Table Soup Kitchen – Backpack Program
Provides food for students from low-income homes, facing hunger especially during weekends. It serves students in 34 schools in Catawba County.
3-St. Stephens High – Juntos 4-H
Funds being used for meals at eight family engagement activities. Reaches out to Hispanic student population and their families, encouraging students to stay in school and attended college.
4-Morning Star Baptist Church – Joseph Hill Reach Back Tutorial Program
This is a free afterschool tutoring program. Funding used to provide educational materials and light snack. There are 43 students already enrolled. Tutors trained to work with learning disabled students and ESL students.
5-Family Care Center of Catawba Valley – Getting Techy
The agency is an emergency shelter program for homeless families with children. Funds used for computer/printer equipment for after-school tutoring and during their summer camp.
Youth Council membership applications are available through the guidance departments at the local high schools or by contacting Donna Mull at 828-465-8240 or at email@example.com.
Applications from nonprofits for the United Way Youth Community Investment process are accepted in early March. For more information about allocations contact the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851.