KOBI Spirit of Community Moment: Community 101

KOBI: This year one of Oregon Community Foundation's most popular programs celebrates 25 years of inspiring a new generation of givers. Community 101 helps students make positive changes in their communities by connecting them directly to non-profits. 25 years and $7 million in grants later, 100 community nonprofits are served around the state each year. Here's another Spirit of Community Moment.

KOBI: South Medford High School student Abi Lewis’ life changed when she was secretly handed a mysterious note.

Abi Lewis: When I was in 7th and 8th grade, we were given slips in one of our classes and they said, “Meet in the gym your teachers have recommended you for something.” And I was like, “Ah, what is this? Like, I don't know what this is.” And then going into it and hearing about what I would be doing throughout the year, who I would be benefiting and those kinds of things, I was immediately like, “Yes I want to be part of this.”

KOBI: Community 101 partners schools with businesses and charitable organizations to offer students real world lessons in civic engagement that produce real world positive outcomes in their communities.

AL: As it went on, I realized this was kind of a big part of my life and something I really wanted to keep looking into and help benefiting people and hearing, hearing the issues that were going on that maybe I wasn't able to see.

KOBI: The concept is pretty simple, get some motivated students together and turn them into charitable fund managers. They train, they meet, they research the needs in their communities and then award grants to charities who help meet those needs.

AL: So, the past couple years it's been more substance abuse and drug abuse, mental health, and homelessness. Those have been some of the big causes.

KOBI: Stacey Stover is an advisor for the Community 101 group at South Medford High School.

Stacey Stover: I think my favorite part about Community 101 is watching the students really get in involved with the process of using this money for good in our community, and then extending it beyond that into the additional projects they do after, where they not only award the money but they develop a relationship with the non-profit.

KOBI: Patsy Smullin is the President of California Oregon Broadcasting in a long-time contributor to Community 101.

Patsy Smullin: It's every single community organization who wants to apply for a grant from these children at Community 101.

AL: We were helping, like immediately helping and going into it. And finding these non-profits, that I didn't even know existed in the first place, are out here helping people and teens every single day. And just being kind of a part of that process had such a big impact on me, and it kind of switched just how I saw the world. And I saw it way differently after that, and it made me feel blessed, and it made me want to help more than anything.

PS: What you learn as a child normally truly sticks with you. It's such a lesson to be learned, and it makes them grow up, take notice of their community, realize all the problems that human beings have and realize how they can be helped by community members just like them.

KOBI: If you’d like to help make Southern Oregon a better place to live, visit Oregon Community Foundation at oregoncf.org.

This from KOBI TV's "Oregon Community Foundation: Spirit of Community" series.