The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 13, 2013

Lakeside High School Youth Philanthropy Group contributing to community

By LORI PINELLI - For the Star Beacon
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula Foundation is providing some Lakeside High School students with a memorable experience in serving their community. The students will distribute $5,000 in funds from the foundation to local 501(C)(3) non-profit organizations that they help choose.

The civic-minded students, who committed to the service project, formed The Lakeside Youth Philanthropy Group. They are seniors Austin Barbian and Raula Daniel Rodriguez, juniors Keely Neal and Anthony Pratt, sophomores Indianelys Cosme, Gabby Novak, Neishmarie Mercado and Valeria Aguinaga, and freshmen Brianna Cimorell, Tessa Nicole Roloson and Quindon Harris.

“We’re just in the beginning stages,” said Michele Verdi-Enriquez, freshman science teacher and advisor to the group.

Verdi-Enriquez participates in local ministries, school drives that support needy families and leadership camps for youth that foster personal development and being a positive influence to others.

She said Lakeside is the second school chosen by the Ashtabula Foundation to participate in the project. In 2010 Grand Valley High School began receiving annual grants to distribute to non-profit agencies selected by students. After approval from the foundation, their student philanthropy board handed out endowments to Country Neighbor, Conversation Station, Grand Valley Public Library and others.

“The Lakeside students will go to local non-profit organizations to interview them and see what’s being done there,” said Verdi-Enriquez.

She said the agencies will say what they plan to do with the grant money if they receive it. The students will decide which are most deserving and the amount each will receive from the $5,000 grant. Those approved by the Ashtabula Foundation will be awarded funds based on the students’ findings and recommendations.

“Trustees from the Ashtabula Foundation will meet with the students to advise and guide them,” said Roberta Martin, the foundation’s administrator.

 “The Ashtabula Foundation wants youth to get involved in the community. The philanthropy group will develop a desire to help others that will continue throughout their lives. They’ll see how people get help and be part of it,” said Verdi.