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BGCL Presents $5,000 in Grants Through Highland Street Foundation Youth Philanthropy Initiative

August 09, 2018

With funding from the Highland Street Foundation Youth Philanthropy Initiative, members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence recently presented grants totaling $5,000 to two Lawrence-based organizations: $3,300 for Lawrence General Hospital to purchase comfortable new seating for its Maternal & Child Special Care Nursery, and $1,700 to fund art therapy programs for young adults with autism at Fidelity House.

Based in Newton, the Highland Street Foundation Youth Philanthropy Initiative engages and empowers middle, high school and college students to collectively choose and fund nonprofit organizations that are addressing local and social issues. Since 2008, the program has trained more than 500 students to donate over $500,000 to nonprofit organizations within their communities.

According to Jody Raineri, teen director at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, youth members learned the range of needs within Greater Lawrence, how nonprofits improve society and effective nonprofit management techniques through their research and evaluation of formal presentations from the finalists.

Zuleydy Perez, a rising senior at Central Catholic High School, was surprised by the large number of nonprofit organizations in Lawrence - and said she wanted to help them all.

"I feel very proud to be on the other side, not just receiving help as a member of a nonprofit organization," said Perez, who is secretary of the Keystone Club, a community service group for high school members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence. "That's what's so great about this program."

Marielis Rodriguez, also a rising senior at Central Catholic, said the students carefully selected Lawrence General Hospital and Fidelity House from dozens of candidates because they believed the funds would make a tangible difference for community members. In fact, both organizations have invited the students to see first-hand how their donations make a difference.

"It's really special to be able to help these organizations do something amazing for people who need it," she said. "It makes me want to do my part to make an impact in the future, too."

Lorna Rajkowski, RN, nurse manager of Special Care Nursery and pediatrics at Lawrence General Hospital, said the grant will purchase cushioned glider chairs with ottomans plus additional seating so family members may comfortably cuddle with babies born prematurely or with special needs.

"Family members, especially mothers who are feeding and bonding with their babies, need a welcoming and comfortable place to sit during this stressful time which can last days, weeks or months," Rajkowski said.

According to Elizabeth Grady, senior program director at Fidelity House, isolation and loneliness are major challenges faced by young adults with autism. The therapeutic art programs, run in conjunction with Essex Art Center in Lawrence, are designed to teach new skills and increase self-confidence with the added benefit of time to socialize with peers. In an effort to create community, the year-long program will culminate with an art show at Essex Art Center.

"We applaud the Highland Street Foundation for giving young people the opportunity to invest in their community," Grady said. "We are extremely grateful for their support, and look forward to welcoming members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence as volunteers at the weekly art sessions so they can see the impact firsthand."

 

Did You Know?

The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence serves over 3,500 inner-city children every year.