The Marietta Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is well underway with their very first project. The YAC first met in October 2016 and began working on identifying an area of need for their first philanthropic project. Over a dozen members from Washington County high schools, Marietta, Belpre, Warren and Fort Frye, worked together to establish their goal of helping area foster children with the transition to new homes.
“They worked really hard to get the project together,” said Britani Merritt, Office Manager of the Foundation and Youth Council Advisor. “Their ability to identify these needs and establish a plan of action for the project was truly impressive.”
With the help of the Marietta Community Foundation, the YAC found invaluable partnerships that made their vision a reality. Council members worked on building a proposal to secure funding for the purchase of duffel bags, blankets, teddy bears, toothbrushes and other essentials through the non-profit organization Together We Rise. The bags themselves can be decorated for a personalized touch before being stuffed and delivered to incoming foster children by Washington County Children’s Services. The bags provide foster children with basic necessities they might be missing and give them something to call their own. Bags also include journals for each child with a letter from the YAC members. This personal touch lends words of encouragement to foster children during a very difficult time. It also allows members to connect with the foster children more directly by lending a message of hope.
When drafting the letters, members worked with Washington County Children’s Services to ensure that there were no issues with triggers as the children receiving the bags have faced a variety of challenging issues. Through this experience, YAC members gained a better understanding of the types of problems the recipients of their giving face. It also ensures their good intentions are not misplaced or diminished by a lack of perspective.
The YAC found funding for their project through partnering with the Washington County Foster Families Foundation. A newer fund at the Marietta Community Foundation, the Foster Families Foundation was established to assist families with funding for activities like school athletics and other basic needs for foster children.
The connections made by the YAC for this project have directly lead to a fast turnaround for their goal to provide all incoming foster children with a small slice of normalcy in an otherwise uncertain time. While the Foundation itself serves a wide variety of needs, groups like the YAC and funds like the Washington County Foster Families Foundation allow for targeted giving that addresses needs in a different, targeted way.
“The Marietta Community Foundation is so proud of all of our Youth Advisory Council members,” said Heather Allender, President and CEO. “We are so happy to have the opportunity to help them with this project and have a part in their journey as philanthropists.”