It’s no secret that service to others is synonymous with a CJ education, but guidance counselor Susan Eichenauer wanted students to learn even more about poverty in the local community, as well as what it takes for different organizations to serve those in need. She also wanted to introduce a new way for students to support those whose mission it is to help others, so she invited 10 students to join the newly formed philanthropy club.
The club is a member of Magnified Giving, a Cincinnati-based program founded by Roger Grein, which provides focus and structure for the club.
“It is learn-as-you-go,” said Eichenauer. “In this first year at CJ, we are all testing the waters. Mainly, we wanted to help the Dayton community which is what I really liked.”
The program seeks to inspire and engage students while “magnifying the impact of philanthropy,” according to magnifiedgiving.org. The group provides hands-on philanthropy education for students, and grant money for organizations that are selected as winning recipients by club members — no easy task to accomplish.
After deciding that they wanted to choose an organization that served children, the CJ group narrowed down their long list of worthy organizations to 10. That meant club members would research, visit, and become involved with service at each of the 10 sites — all to determine which organization would receive the $1,500 in grant money. The experience was eye-opening for LiNan McSherry ‘15 and fellow club member Megan Murray ‘14.
“I learned that this program is really big in Cincinnati and that we are the first to do this in Dayton,” McSherry said. “Many non-profits are run by volunteers and not paid staff. They are all about helping those in poverty. We learned about the many services they all provide.
“If these agencies were not in Dayton, then there would be a lot more need. Those needing medical attention would not get it. Catholic Social Services’ food pantry serves thousands. If we didn’t have that, a lot more people would be going hungry.”
Murray agrees saying that so many in the community are providing a tremendous amount of services, and that it is hard to decide who will receive the grant money.
“It’s difficult to choose. You have to decide what to focus on and there is no wrong or right choice, but our club has to decide. We go out to the sites and get a feel for how they help others. We take a look at how different places use resources, money and volunteers. We end up seeing how they impact so many.
“At the Catholic Social Services food pantry, you walk people around and help them pick out food that they like rather than just handing them a bag of food that might go to waste. We had the opportunity to interact with the people who came,” Murray said.
“Sometimes you don’t get to see the people you are helping at other places. They came in with suitcases that they walked around with all day. They were so grateful.”
To close out the club’s inaugural year, members attended the Magnified Giving Student Philanthropy Program 2013 Award Ceremony on April 30 in Cincinnati along with other clubs from across Ohio and Northern Kentucky and representatives from agencies that were awarded grants this year. Sitting at CJ’s table this year were grant recipients: Daybreak ($1,000) and Dakota Center, Inc. ($500).
“Choosing how to spend the grant was the hardest part of the grant process,” said McSherry. “All the organizations that we chose, we chose for a reason — they helped people in the greater Dayton area. However, our group chose Daybreak and the Dakota Center because we felt that they helped people short term and long term.
“On one hand you have Daybreak that houses, feeds, and offers emotional stability to young adults, teens, and women. And then you have the Dakota Center which helps little kids who are less fortunate and do not have the extra curriculars that most children are able to have.”
According to Eichenauer, club participants gained an understanding of the operation of non-profit agencies from the experience and had the opportunity to meet Magnified Giving founder, Roger Grein, who did not let personal setback become an excuse for not helping others. “I hope when presented with obstacles in their future, they learn that they can persevere and overcome what life throws at them.”