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Making a Difference in Seymour, Missouri Part 1

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/makingadif_3817.mp3

Mike Smith talks with members of the Greater Seymour Area Foundation.

For KSMU and Making a Difference Where You Live, I’m Mike Smith. Making a Difference is our quarterly series which introduces you to people in the Ozarks who are making their communities a better place. Today, we’re in Seymour Missouri talking with members of the Greater Seymour Area Foundation. The GSAF is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. We will also hear today from people who have benefited from programs funded by the GSAF.
Janice Blankenship is a founding member of the GSAF, and is currently serving as President of the GSAF Board of Governors. When asked what motivates her to make a difference in her community, Blankenship first says “You get very involved with the children. Everyone you meet has a need of some kind, and it’s rewarding to me to be a part of getting those people what they need, just helping out and seeing things getting accomplished”.
The Greater Seymour Area Foundation was established in 1998. Then, in order to become a CFO affiliate, the GSAF needed a minimum of $30,000 in a CFO account. Today, GSAF total assets amount to over $800,000 and since 1998 the GSAF has distributed nearly $200,000 in grants and scholarships. Blankenship tells KSMU the GSAF has helped the Parents and Teachers Organization with funding for playground equipment, the local fire department with funding to purchase a second defibulator. The first one from the GSAF she says has already saved 2 lives. Blankenship the GSAF has funded programs for the local senior center and provided several scholarship funds in area schools.
Among programs funded by the GSAF in the local school system is
the Youth Empowerment Project. According to the Community Foundation of the
Ozarks FY2007 annual report, “The mission of the YEP is to empower youth to
positively impact their community. This is accomplished through education, service,
grant making, and fundraising”. Renee Wallace, GSAF Board of Governor’s member
since 1998 is the YEP advisor. She says YEP membership includes 4 students from each
class, freshman through senior, 2 boys, 2 girls from each grade. Wallace says money
raised in fundraising projects is “Given back to youth oriented projects in the form of
grants”. The President of the Seymour High School YEP is 17 year old Shalyn Guthery.
She says one example of YEP success if the funding approved for new uniforms for the
middle school basketball team. “We reviewed the grant application on an individual
basis, then when we got back together, everybody said what they thought about it. Do
they need $500, or could they do with less? Do they have any other fundraisers? We just
came together, voted on it and approved it. The project gave us first hand experience
going through the entire process, the discussion the vote, presenting the oversized check.
Seeing them really happy about it.”
Promoting literacy is one of the most important of GSAF goals participation in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is but one element of that mission. According to www.imaginationlibrary.com , “The program is designed to foster a love or reading by pre school kids ages birth to 5, and their families". A community, in this case the GSAF, makes the program available to all pre school kids in their area enrolled in the Parents as Teachers Program.” Every month until the child who is registered in the program turns 5, an age appropriate book is delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to that child. Skipper Maybee is local coordinator of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program and is Vice President of the Greater Seymour Area Foundation . She says the book are free to the kids and anyone can sponsor book delivery for an area pre school kid for $30 a month. Amie Frantz is mother to 3 children who have or are now taking part in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. Her son Colin, now 8 years old is past the program age limit to receive books but was “Always filled with excitement every month while waiting for his next book to be delivered to the mailbox”. Frantz says Colin is helping Amie and her husband read to his 4 year old sister Cora, and to little brother Turner who is nearly 4 months old. Amie Frantz says she can tell a difference in children who have been read to or are reading on their own, books provided by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program through the GSAF. She thinks the program is ‘Great”!
Funding for this series comes from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. For information, www.cfozarks.org. For KSMU and Making a Difference Where You Live, I’m Mike Smith.