Bridget Dowd Guest Columnist | The Times Leader | December 5, 2020
As the student director of Luzerne Foundation’s Youth Adivisory Committee, this year and throughout my involvement and exposure to YAC for many years, I have been lucky enough to see the “behind the scenes” of charity work, philanthropy and the grant-making process here in Luzerne County.
In my last two years of involvement with YAC, we have decided to award more than $10,000 to local charities focused on environmentalism. In 2019, YAC awarded $5,500 to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to support the cleanup of natural areas in Luzerne County. In 2020, we awarded $5,000 to EPCAMR (Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation) for the purchase of an aerial drone that would assist in the mapping of water sheds in our region.
Interestingly enough, prior to 2019, the YAC group had never awarded grant money to an environmental charity. The emergence of this new-found interest in local high- chool student’s points to a growing desire of students’ clear compassion for the natural world around them. At a local level, it’s easy to lose sight of the global environmental challenges we face as a society and a nation. However, the growing interest in local environmental charities is just one step in recognizing these global challenges at a local level and meeting these challenges half-way. While YACsters have primarily focused on more traditional causes such as youth, education and healthcare in the past, the group continues to evolve as the interests of the group shift and change; explaining the recent interest in environmental issues in our community the past two years.
At the onset of the 2020-2021 YAC year, I knew that we would need to do more this year than any year prior. After brainstorming with other YACsters, we decided that we would reach out to The McGlynn Center, a recreational and educational center for the Wilkes-Barre youth that is dedicated to service and education. After some planning and discussion, we learned that the most effective way for us to help this charity was to collect games for the children that are serviced there. Throughout the course of the fall, we were able to collect board games and toys for the McGlynn Center and will be presenting them with these games before the holidays.
The success of YAC comes as no surprise, considering the compassionate, intelligent and hard-working high school students that comprise the group. Stemming from nine different Luzerne County high schools, “YAC” represents a variety of different opinions, involvement in the community, priorities and morals. Despite having a range of different backgrounds and schools, the YACsters are unified by the immense responsibility and influence over the funding allocated to local charities and deserving causes. United by the need to do-good, we have always known that the Luzerne County will continue to be a great place to live as long as people and groups such as YAC, the Luzerne Foundation, and the incredible Luzerne County charities continue to perform life-changing work in our hometowns.