GRANTS PASS, Ore. -An idea sparked by the major wildfires that destroyed over 70,000 acres of Southern Oregon last summer, Hidden Valley High School students Rachel Loughran, Jordan Gilbert, and Sylvia Marr have found a way to award $35,060 to their local Fire Departments in Josephine County.
As members of the Josephine County Foundation (JCF)- a student led non-profit, these three decided to partner with their local fire departments because they saw the educational and financial need in their community. JCF consists of local students from Hidden Valley High School, Illinois Valley High School, North Valley High School, Grants Pass High School, and New Hope Christian School. The student’s objective is simple: to come together to serve their community, and to raise funds for Josephine County.
Through online resources and meetings with all Josephine County Fire Departments, the students decided the best way to assist the firefighters would be to write grants towards funding for equipment. This way, students in the community would get the experience of learning about philanthropy with the benefits of bringing outside/new funds into Josephine County.
Not knowing the financial need of the local fire departments, Hidden Valley High School Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members helped JCF members interview each local Fire Chief and fill out a Needs Assessment based on the top priorities for their station. The assessment showed that $11 million dollars of equipment was needed over the next 5 years.
After making a list of the low-cost, critical equipment based on each agency’s needs assessment, the students set a 2 year goal of raising $60,000 for their community’s fire safety equipment. Within this first year, these high school students were able to raise $35,060 of their goal in grant money for the fire departments. On May 19th, the Josephine County Foundation held their first ever Awards Ceremony where they distributed the funds as follows:
• Applegate Fire Department – $4,500 for 10 Firefighter Pagers
• Grants Pass Fire Department – $4,560 for Structural Turnouts
• Illinois Fire Department – $6,500 for a RAD-57 CO Monitor and Positive Pressure Vent Fan
• Rural/Metro Fire Department – $4,800 for 3 Multigas/CO Detectors
• Williams Fire Department – $5,800 for 2 Gate Valves and 5 Fire Hose Nozzles
• Wolf Creek Fire Department – $8,900 for 1 3/4 ” Fire Hose and 3 Handheld Radios
Through all this hard work and dedication, these JCF members also wrote a 30 page report and gave a seven minute presentation through FBLA at the National Leadership Conference and received 2nd place in the nation against almost 100 other community projects. Their national success further demonstrates the hours committed, the hard work dedicated, and the lives changed through this partnership.
This project has had a monumental affect on Josephine County’s schools and community, and will for years to come. In the upcoming school year, students will continue to apply for grants to fund the needs of the departments in order to reach (or exceed) their goal of $60,000.