For Love, Not Money
(page 4 of 5)
Photography: Courtesy of Make a Difference Now Lee Pesky Learning Center, Rotarun Ski Club, Inc., St. Luke’s YAK!
Any barrier to learning is a potential detriment to a young person. A child must be whole in mind, body and spirit to succeed. No one organization or person can tackle the problem, nor is there any one right answer for every question, except, perhaps, in math. But when 2 + 2 is a problem that can’t be solved, when the body is unfulfilled or the home-front is lacking love and support, help is needed. Gratefully, people here care, a lot.
Make A Difference NOW
Make A Difference Now was founded by Hailey resident, Theresa Grant, with the goal of ending poverty and AIDS by sending orphaned children to school, educating them about HIV/AIDS, malaria and sanitation, as well as offering job skill training and income generators. Make A Difference Now consists of a working board in Ketchum, Idaho led by Executive Director Grant and a small board overseeing the effort of local managers working in Zambia, local partners in Tanzania and two directors in India, as well as house mothers, cooks and drivers. More than 50 volunteers from around the world have traveled abroad to assist with various projects. Ninety percent of MAD’s funds—largely from private donors—go straight to the program. Other income generators include a jewelry and sewing program where older children from the orphanages make items for purchase locally at Tully’s Coffee House and Ketchum Dry Goods, as well as Friedman Memorial Airport. The money earned is used for schooling. Madi and Lexi DuPont and Emily O’Reilly are heralded for launching the Kilimanjaro Fundraiser Climb. Enough money was raised to send 22 children from the Tanzanian orphanage to school for a year. Make A Difference Now relies heavily on volunteers from 13 to 60 years old, who help teach HIV/AIDS and health awareness classes, construction, computer classes, art, music or drama, cooking, fitness and English. Volunteers can choose the country they want to work in and for those wanting to vacation afterwards, Make A Difference can help set them up. For more information visit http://www.makeadifferencenow.org/.
Lee Pesky Learning Center
Lee Pesky Learning Center was started in Boise in 1997 by Alan and Wendy Pesky in memory of their son, Lee. Lee grew up to own Ketchum’s Buckin’ Bagels, among other achievements, despite challenging learning disabilities. Upon Lee’s untimely death, his parents decided to honor him by creating a resource for others with similar obstacles to achieve their personal best. Today, the Center provides one-on-one services (assessment, counseling, and remediation) to individuals with learning disabilities and addresses wider needs in Idaho through teacher training, early literacy education and programs that help low-income populations overcome learning challenges. The Center annually serves more than 10,000 Idaho individuals, primarily children, with learning challenges; parents of children with learning disabilities; and schoolteachers across the state; childcare providers; and school and community leaders. Through partnerships with schools and other organizations like the new Ketchum YMCA, the Center has become a major player in helping Idaho communities address the educational needs of at-risk children. Seventy-five percent of the revenue goes straight into the Center’s programs, with 10 percent coming from fundraising events like the annual Sun Valley Scavenger Hunt dinner and auction. The rest comes from individual donations. Learning disabilities can be lifelong obstacles to educational success and personal happiness. The Center’s work literally saves lives. For more information call 208.578.1676 or visit http://www.lplearningcenter.org/.
St. Luke’s YAK!
St. Luke’s YAK! (Youth Adult Konnections!) is celebrating 10 years of commitment to proving that the youth in this community do amazing things. Founded by a group of community members and organizations working with area children, the goal was to promote and build developmental assets and to offer programs and services for young people to keep them safe, healthy and active members of the community. Frances Nagashima has long been the fearless leader, but recently passed the torch to new coordinator, Kelly Nicholson. Youth leaders include Mary Van Zeipel and Chauncy McGraw, current Blaine County Teen Advisory Council Executive Council members. YAK! relies primarily on funding from its partnership with St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center and holds the Jay Owenhouse Magic Show every summer for added support. YAK! youth and volunteers provide thousands of hours of community service to a multitude of community partners and community efforts. Adults are encouraged to join in the efforts—whether it be working side-by-side with a teen doing community service or using their expertise on one of their many teen issue panels.
—Lee Pesky Learning Center
Rotarun Ski Club Inc.
Art Richards founded Rotarun Ski Club Inc. in 1963 in order to provide affordable skiing to the community. Families and children in the Wood River Valley benefit by having Rotarun Ski Hill because it is accessible and affordable. The hill provides a healthy environment and offers a recreational activity to occupy kids and keep them out of trouble. It is a jewel for Hailey, giving the city an alternative ski community to Ketchum. Paying the employees on the ski hill and mountain manager consists of about 50 percent of their overall budget while the remainder goes to hill maintenance. Everything else is provided by volunteers. Twenty-five percent of their money comes from annual fundraising efforts such as an annual summer concert and winter ski races. Donors in general make up about 75 percent of the income. Rotarun is in the middle of a hill upgrade project. The fundraising campaign is called “Bringing Rotarun into the 21st Century.” The goal is to afford the installation of snowmaking at Rotarun, a new day lodge and a chairlift. Organizers say they are halfway there, but more is needed. Volunteers are always welcome to help out on the hill or with special events. For more information call 208.788.6204 or visit http://rotarun.org/.
Camp Rainbow Gold
Twenty-five years for Camp Rainbow Gold
“We have the most amazing organization here and we have the most giving and charitable Valley I have ever witnessed,” says Kris Cronin, who along with husband Rob have made this camp for children with cancer their life’s passion. “We wouldn’t be here without the generosity of this Valley.”
Started by a Twin Falls oncologist, a former scout leader who was spurred to action by the inquiry of a young patient seeking some diversion for kids like himself, the camp last year had grown to accommodate 83 kids. Dr. Dave McClusky makes the trek to Cathedral Pines for the camp every summer and “Quietly observes,” says Cronin. “He takes so much joy watching his dream unfold year after year.”
When Cronin and husband entered the picture 10 years ago, the camp was struggling financially, running on heart and stamina but needing some structure for fundraising. Their first event was held at The Red Elephant, “and we were hooked,” she recalls. Soon after came the enormously successful Share Your Heart Ball, the primary fund source for the camp each year.
“There are so many volunteers in this community that give and give and give,” says Cronin. People who take weeks out of their every day lives to accompany these children to camp, show them how to have fun and cuddle them when the blues set in. The impact of the mission is felt outside of the camp having years ago gotten the attention of members of the biker community, who now—300 strong—escort the kids to camp each year. Volunteers have carried the load so successfully that they are now able to offer family camp and sibling camp. Additionally 12 former campers received college scholarships this past summer.
“It is the greatest place on earth,” says Cronin. “To be able to fulfill this dream for the kids is just incredible.”To become a volunteer or to donate call 208.422.0174, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.camprainbowgold.org . >>>