The YMCA of the USA selected three winning projects submitted by Oklahomans for its third annual My Fresh Page Project contest to encourage community improvement.
“[The My Fresh Page Project] was created to prove that a single idea can transform the quality of life in neighborhoods across the country,” said Brenda Bennett, vice president of communications at the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City.
Philanthropists nationwide submitted 560 entries at three separate prize levels of $5,000, $1,000 and $500. Then the public cast 430,000 online votes during the contest to decide 17 semi-finalists. Finally, a panel of judges at the YMCA of the USA narrowed down the ten winners, who received a total of $20,000 in grant money.
“Giving back and providing support to the community is a vital part of the Y’s commitment to social responsibility, and this is just one way that we can help strengthen our community,” Bennett said.
The $1,000 grant winner, OK Teens Care!, was created by Edmond teenager Addison Price because she wants to encourage teenagers to volunteer in their communities. OK Teens Care! will use the money to buy pancake batter for the local Kiwanis Club, provide supplies to kids at the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, improve flower beds at senior citizen homes and provide refreshments at community Christmas festivals.
“Addison wanted to do as many projects as possible … so that way they could impact different groups and include friends from different pockets of her life and show them that volunteering is a good thing,” Bennett said.
Another grant recipient, the Choose, Chance, Change program, was initiated by a group of YMCA staff and works with youth in the Oklahoma County Juvenile Detention Facility to provide positive role models and healthy activities. The program won a $500 grant to bring the youth inspiration and hope through leadership, asset-building and physical activities, especially during the holidays.
Briarwood Elementary School received a $500 grant to replace their soccer field, goals and balls in the aftermath of the May 20, 2014, tornado. The project was submitted by Oklahoma City resident Paula Cellars, a Briarwood mom and PTA member.
The winning projects were chosen based on their merit, creativity, how they fit with the contest’s theme and their appropriateness.
“The efforts of the Y are focused on nurturing the potential of every child and teen, proving our community’s health and well-being and giving back and providing assistance to our neighbors,” Bennett said.
The Y is able to meet many of these goals because of the incredible volunteers in the community. In 2014, the 12 Oklahoma City YMCA locations had 4,933 volunteers, who gave 67,912 hours.
Other project entries by Oklahoma residents included ReMerge, a diversionary program for mothers facing incarceration. ReMerge helps them become productive citizens, and the I Heart Run 5K to raise money for the American Heart Association.
Special Care, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides year-round speech, behavioral, physical and occupational therapy to more than 200 Oklahoma children with special needs.
Just in time for the holidays, a local charitable trust awarded Special Care — and dozens of other nonprofits — monetary grants to continue their services.
Trustees of the Kirschner Trusts Affiliated Fund awarded $354,075 in grants to 78 state and national nonprofit organizations — 10 of them based in OKC — Dec. 1.
Special Care’s grant for its services was a handsome $4,000.
Kelli Dupuy, Special Care’s director of marketing and development, said she and her staff are “super excited” about the Kirschner Trusts grant.
“Our kids get amazing care here, but it’s because of the wonderful people in the community like the Kirschner Trust,” said Dupuy. “The work they do is really impacting lives.”
Most of the fund’s beneficiaries are located in Muskogee and northeast Oklahoma, but nine Oklahoma City-based organizations also applied for and received grants this year, including:
According to its website, the Kirschner Trusts grants benefit “nonprofit organizations that provide direct services in the areas of health and disabilities, youth, education and social services” and “award grants to small nonprofit organizations that have limited funding sources.”
The Kirschner Trusts are named after Phil and Roberta Kirschner, who supported organizations in and around the Muskogee area. After Phil’s death in 1981, his estate established five separate trusts that continued donations and support.
In 2013, Roberta’s daughter, Miriam Freedman, transferred the assets to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, helping to create a permanent endowment fund.
Dupuy said Special Care’s “wonderful gift” will go a long way. She said $4,000 can fund seven full scholarships, 15 partial scholarships, 50 therapy sessions or nearly 1,000 meals, one of their highest overall costs.
Print headline: Impacting lives, Charitable trusts and the YMCA awards money to local, state and national nonprofits.