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Student leaders announce grant awards; happy to contribute ‘something good in the world’

Crystal Graham
WHS student Ellary Bond
Waynesboro High School student Ellary Bond; photo by Kate Simon for CFCBR

A local Youth Philanthropy Council announced its choices for area nonprofits who will receive grants to help the community.

The council, part of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, is comprised of 22 students from the seven local public high schools and Stuart Hall.

In total, 12 area nonprofit organizations were chosen with funding totaling $30,000.

The ceremony to present the grants was held Wednesday at the Staunton Innovation Hub.

The local nonprofit organizations receiving grants were:

  • ARROW Project
  • Brain Injury Connections of the Shenandoah Valley
  • LIFEWorks Project
  • Martha’s Meals on Wheels
  • Mental Health America-Augusta
  • The Neighbor Bridge
  • New Directions Center
  • Shenandoah LGBTQ Center
  • Valley Children’s Advocacy Center
  • Valley Hope Counseling Center
  • Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry

Dan Layman, CEO of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, said it’s nice to see young people invested in the causes that matter.

“These young men and women are so impressive,” said Layman. “They take this work so seriously. It’s amazing how much we learn about our community, and how to support it, by seeing it through their eyes.”

Led by Miriam Burrows, the community foundation director of educational programs, the students met monthly to learn how nonprofits function and what challenges the community faces. This knowledge helped the group set its funding priorities for the YPC grants.

“Incorporating philanthropy into our students’ academic curriculum has this capacity to genuinely and powerfully impact all of our futures,” Burrows said. “Philanthropy means literally ‘love of mankind.’  If we’re genuinely practicing empathy, kindness, and love, we get better and better at it. And the results are beautiful.”

Rebecca Simmons, executive director Valley Children’s Advocacy Center, said the YPC grants are one of her favorite grants to write and receive.

“The YPC is so awesome. It’s just what Miriam talked about earlier, which is how it pours into our younger generation so that they learn about philanthropy and all the different nonprofits in our community, and what those nonprofits bring,” said Simmons. “That knowledge stays with them whether they stay in our community, or when they go to the next community.”

Staunton High School junior Santiago Berrizbeitia saw the impact of the group’s efforts.

“It’s a real privilege to have the assurance that you’re contributing to something good in the world,” said Berrizbeitia.

Ellary Bond, a sophomore at Waynesboro High School, appreciated meeting and collaborating with her peers from other schools.

“All these people that are like-minded, and we all want to help other people,” Bond said. “It’s a great experience being here.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.