Caring for the community starts at young age for Salem students
SALEM — Some Salem High School students are giving their time to fill community needs, demonstrating Youth in Philanthropy in both thought and action.
“I love helping out the community that has given so much to me,” SHS junior Wilson Corbisello said.
Mentor Melissa Costa, who’s also the grants coordinator for the Salem Community Foundation which sponsors Youth in Philanthropy (YIP), said the group offers assistance either “monetarily or (by) rolling up our sleeves.”
SCF established YIP in January “to help Salem High School students understand community needs, meet new people, gain personal growth through philanthropy, and to ultimately make our community a better place to live and work,” a press release about the group said.
The responsibility of doling out money allocated to them is taken very seriously.
Grants awarded by YIP come from endowment funds established by SCF by the generosity of donors, with grants supporting a wide variety of needs in the area of arts and humanities, health and human services, public and community services and education. The students attend monthly meetings and participate with their ideas and participation in decisions about grants and in community service projects.
For example, the group will be painting the signs at the entrances to Centennial Park and the walking trail at Waterworth Memorial Park. They recently provided gym equipment that Salem schools needed, junior Kyla Jamison said. Fellow junior Libby Ripley said they asked every school what they wanted and provided them with yoga mats, team-building parachutes, balls and jump ropes and other items.
“Kids were really excited,” Ripley said.
The group started with Corbisello, Jamison and Ripley and this school year added sophomores Hannah Bowers, Emma Hochadel and Andrew Wilson. According to the press release, the members of the SCF Board of Directors are excited that YIP “will encourage high school students to become our community’s next generation of philanthropists.”
Beside Costa, mentors for YIP include SCF Kent State University Intern Brittany Zamarelli and Buckeye Elementary School first grade teacher Ryan Barrett.
“I think it’s a good way for the students to take ownership in the community,” Barrett said, helping out where they can.
Mentors teach the importance of giving and community service and “challenge the kids to demonstrate leadership, identify local needs, evaluate proposals, look at budgets, and work together as a team. They also provide ways for the group to take action with issues important to them,” the press release said.
One of their first decisions occurred in April on a request for financial assistance for the Quakertown Super Kids Classic, evaluating an application and granting $548 for the purchase of special helmets for physically and developmentally challenged children participating in the event and for soapbox derby car brakes. The annual race for Quakertown Super Kids takes place in June in front of city hall.
Other grants given include: Salem City Schools and St. Paul School, $1,022, for gym equipment delivered the week before school started to physical education teachers, including dodgeballs, playground balls, ball pumps, jump ropes, vinyl bases, yoga mats, and multi-colored team building parachutes; Salem Public Library, $532, for thematic / dramatic role-play sets of a classroom, grocery store, restaurant, and kitchen, along with 225 plastic food items, tabletop diner objects, six 20-inch baby dolls with accessories, classroom learning games, plastic money, erasable menus, teaching boards, and a fractional learning birthday cake; and Banquet in Salem, $375, for four food transport carts and commercial-grade kitchen knives.
Besides the projects in the parks, YIP’s community service plans include collecting recyclables and reusable school supplies during the seasonal locker clean-out at Salem Junior High/Salem High School.
“I’m excited to be part of this,” Bowers said.
As a recipient of one of the grants, Salem Public Library Director Brad Stephens said he’s “very impressed by the efforts of this group of youngsters to make a difference in the community, investing in Salem to make it a better place. The library is very grateful for their generosity.”
He said the items donated will be put to good use for story times, programming and general use by patrons.
Salem High School Principal Todd McLaughlin said there are a lot of great kids in the school and this group is not only beneficial for them but also for the community.
“Anytime we can get our young people involved in the community and schools, it’s awesome,” he said.
Both Zamarelli and Costa played an integral part in getting the group started.
“Earlier this year, Melissa and I recognized how important it is to continue the nurture of young minds and allowing them the opportunity to give back to the Salem area. The projects YIP has completed and those that have yet to come are surely making a difference in our community. As an advisor of this philanthropy program, I enjoy how I am able to share my love for Salem with these fine young students and learn about the future through their eyes,” said Zamarelli, who’s a senior at KSU and a SHS alumnus.
“The YIP program actively engages Salem’s young people in real and meaningful ways. Ryan, Brittany and I take pride and really enjoy our time mentoring the students through the stages of each project we consider. From defining the known need, to gathering and analyzing information, and then finally making a decision and taking action,” Costa said.
Zamarelli explained the significance of the YIP logo, consisting of spirals representing fingers coming out of a hand, touching every part of the community.
“We thought that was a good representation of our program,” she said.